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Results based accountability

The department has adopted Results Based Accountability to measure improvements in outcomes for children and their families.

Results Based Accountability (RBA) is a simple, common sense process which communities and agencies can use to improve the lives of children, families and the community as a whole.

It is an approach that emphasises the achievement of results of services from the perspective of the child and their family.

Key features

Population and performance accountability - who is accountable for what?

Accountability starts with a crucial distinction between:

The distinction in results links to a distinction in accountabilities:

A common language

The diversity and multi-disciplinary nature of organisations and staff delivering early years services means some commonly used terms may mean different things to different people.

To remedy this, RBA uses plain language and common sense methods that everyone can understand.

Read more in the Glossary of terms Adobe PDF document1.3Mtext version Microsoft® Word document1.1M.

From ends to means

RBA starts with the ends and works backwards, step by step, towards the means.

The first step is to identify the desired result e.g. conditions of well-being for children, families and the community as a whole.

The second step is to work out how these results can be achieved.

This approach can be used to support strategic planning, continuous improvement, program development and performance.

Results and indicators are about the ends (results) we want for children and families.

Strategies and performance measures are about the means to get there.

Indicators and performance measures - what is the difference?

The key differences are about the scale and or size of the group that data relates to, for instance:

Linking population and performance accountabilities

The performance of programs and services contribute to the achievement of results for the population.

The linkage

Organisations or funded services are responsible for what they do for/with their clients. In turn, these client results contribute to the achievement of population results. However achievement of the population result is the collective responsibility of all organisations, government and other community and business partners operating in a geographic area like Queensland or a specific neighbourhood or town.

The linkage between population and customer results in relation to an Early Years Service is outlined in the example below.

Population accountability

Result: All children are ready for school
Indicator: Per cent of children on track according to Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

Performance accountability

Child Focused Activities and Groups
How much? E.g. number of children participatingHow well? E.g. per cent of parents/carers satisfied with the service
Client results/outcomes
Is anyone better off? E.g. number of parents/carers who report that their child is benefiting from participationIs anyone better off? E.g. number of parents/carers who report that their child is benefiting from participation

Performance measures

Performance measures comprise 3 questions:

  1. How much did we do?
    Clients: e.g. number of children accessing the service.
    Activities: e.g. number of playgroups, number of parenting programs.

  2. How well did we do it?
    Common quality measures: e.g. satisfaction, attendance rates, completion.
    Activity-specific quality measures: e.g. percentage of staff trained/qualified, percentage of clients satisfied.

  3. Is anyone better off?
    Number and percentage changes in: skills/knowledge, attitude/opinion, behaviour, circumstance.


The Results-Based Accountability and trade; concepts used by the department are derived from the book Trying Hard is Not Good Enough and Turning Curves An Accountability Companion Reader by Mark Friedman.

More information

For more information on Results-Based Accountability visit these websites:

Creative Commons Licence - Attribution CC BY

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This page was last reviewed on 26 Aug 2016

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