English

This paper argues that the introduction of performance measurement should be seen as part of a larger trend toward the accreditation of public agencies and private business organizations. Because of its obvious similarities with accreditation, performance measurement in central government ministries can be assessed by examining the effects of accreditation in those areas where it has already been introduced. Accreditation systems are often seen as more realistic alternatives to program evaluation. In Québec, for example, junior colleges have long been subject to a system of program evaluation administered by the CÉEC — the Commission d'évaluation de l'enseignement collégial. The CÉEC has recently announced that it will abandon the field of program evaluation, in order to engage in a new form of "institutional evaluation". This was done at the explicit request of the Federation of Junior Colleges, which has long been opposed to the system of program evaluation administered by the CÉEC. The junior colleges or "CÉGEPs" (Collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel) see accreditation as a way of reducing competition among junior colleges. They argue that the CÉEC should help the colleges improve their performance, but should refrain from distinguishing between good performance and bad performance. When a college cannot meet the accreditation requirements, the accreditation process should be suspended. Viewed in this light, systems of accreditation and performance measurement can be seen as tools for reducing the accountability of public agencies to government and to public opinion. While program evaluation assumes the possibility of public debate about programs being evaluated, accreditation ensures that the information necessary for public debate will be kept confidential.

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Pages
73-88
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