SNAP! Govt agencies inventing numbers to meet targets on social issues

Stuff 17 February 2016
Family First Comment: Snap! This is what our report on child abuse and the failure of the smacking law last week said also: “The report cites Child Youth and Family’s statistics for child abuse and neglect as an example of particular concern, with a large gap between its recorded cases of abuse in 2014-15 and those recorded by police.”

Government agencies are “inventing” new numbers and changing the definitions of targets to make their performance seem better, a damning report says.
The Salvation Army says the organisations feel under pressure from the Government to come up with favourable results, creating an attitude where they “find any reason to celebrate success or progress”, regardless of their original goals.
The charitable organisation’s State of the Nation report attacks the ways in which government agencies appear to be using targets, and the numbers behind them, in a “less than straightforward and reliable manner”.
The report says agencies have been using a number of “subtle and ingenious approaches” to improve their performance against targets.
They include changing the definitions behind indicators to make results appear better, “inventing new numbers” that are difficult to verify, and changing the way figures are reported without improving the reliability of information provided.
“This can cause us to slip into a ‘moveable feast’ mentality, where we find any reason to celebrate success or progress, even though we have lost our sense of the purpose behind it all.”


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