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In order to compare these various goal schemes, it is helpful to develop and apply some uniform criteria. This section briefly outlines eight comparison criteria.

Scope of goals—Goals are relatively broad or focused, depending on their scope.

Time frameShort-term goals are characterized as those with a 3-year-or-lesstime frame, medium-term goals as those with a 3-to-25-year time frame, and long-term goals as those with a 25-plus-year time frame.

Measures of success—An organization's goals typically target resources expenditures (inputs), qualitative performance (outcomes), and/or quantitative performance (outputs). Measures of success are thus characterized as either input based, outcomes based, or output based .4 Input-based measures of success are commonly criticized for their inability to reflect results. Outcomes-based measures are often difficult to track over time. Output-based measures are typically criticized as lacking clear measures of effort and accountability.

Completeness of metrics for assessing progress toward goals (high, medium, or low)—Arguably, progress assessment is as important as goal-setting itself. Metrics chosen for progress assessment, however, may be problematic for a number of reasons. First, target levels may be unrealistic. Second, metrics chosen may not be appropriate, reliable means for assessing progress toward a particular goal. Third, because multiple metrics may be designated to assess progress toward a single goal, how to interpret them collectively may not be clear.

Clear policy tools for achieving goals (yes or no)—Some schemes for achieving goals are clearly regulatory in nature, while others prescribe grant-giving, direct action, or other policy mechanisms. At the same time, however, some goal schemes do not prescribe any specific approaches to achieve desired results.

Interim milestones of success (yes or no)—Goal schemes with metrics for progress assessment may or may not specify interim milestones of success. Without such concrete milestones, it is generally difficult to evaluate strategies and make necessary midcourse corrections.

Explicit assessment of trade-offs in goal choices (yes or no)—An effective goal scheme must be grounded in reality and at the same time directed toward ideals. Most goal statements reflect ideals. However, many fail to address the real trade-offs that must be confronted in order to reach the ideals.

Environmental policy analysts as formulators of goals and metrics (yes or no)—Goals and metrics may be formulated by expert environmental policy analysts and then reviewed by interest groups or the general public. Alternatively, they may be formulated by interest groups and the public and then reviewed by the


These performance measurement terms are defined in an OMB memo dated September 23, 1994.

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