This report is a thorough examination of the government’s use of targets in four public services: education, health, housing and the criminal justice system.
The report sets out the design flaws in the current targets regime but concludes that these flaws are the result of specific design problems and that they are not intrinsic to the very existence of targets and they do not constitute a compelling case for abandonment. Well designed targets, the report argues, can be a very useful tool in improving public service performance, this is especially true when other forms of service improvement – such as user choice – are absent.
This report presents a range of practical proposals to improve the way in which targets are designed in the future. These are illustrated with a definition of a “good target”, encapsulating the principles of how, and when, targets should be set.