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Performance Targets

A Performance Target is the specific, planned level of a result to be achieved within an explicit timeframe with a given level of resources. Missions should set targets for the end of the DO time period for their performance indicators and may set targets for the interim years in between. Yearly targets are required for standard indicators that are reported to Washington in the annual performance reports.

USAID guidance on setting performance targets indicates that they should be ambitious, but achievable given USAID (and other donor) inputs. Missions should be willing to be held accountable for achieving their targets. On the other hand, targets that are set too low are also not useful for management and reporting purposes. For many indicators it is useful to establish annual targets as well as an overall target for the CDCS period, and for some indicators it may be appropriate to establish separate targets for men and women, or to disaggregated them in other ways.

While the value of targets in a performance management system is well established, the mechanics of “how to” set targets are less fully prescribed. USAID's TIPS on Baselines and Targets identifies historical trends and benchmarks, i.e., how well others are performing on an indicator, as useful starting points for setting targets.

Sri Lanka LPI Index Scores 2012 Relative to Best Performers and Simiar Countries

Country Year LPI Rank LPI Score Customs Infrastructure
Singapore 2012 1 4.13 4.1 4.15
United States 2012 9 3.93 3.67 4.14
United Kingdom 2012 10 3.9 3.73 3.95
Ecuador 2012 79 2.76 2.36 2.62
Bahamas, The 2012 80 2.75 2.69 2.77
Sri Lanka 2012 81 2.75 2.58 2.5
Costa Rica 2012 82 2.75 2.47 2.6
Cote d'Ivoire 2012 83 2.73 2.31 2.31

In addition to determining overall CDCS targets, most Missions identify annual targets for many of their performance indicators. When setting annual targets, it is important to consider what path improvements will take. For some, most of the improvement that occurs, e.g., after a policy change, may emerge quickly, where as behavior changes which depend on new knowledge and possibility a change in peoples attitudes may emerge slowly. A linear path from a baseline to achievement of the target for a CDCS performance indicator is not as likely in practice as it is simple to draw.

Regardless of what approach a Mission uses to set targets for the specific indictors it will monitor, it can be useful to those involved in implementing or evaluating a program to understand how targets were set. USAID's Feed the Future program note on target setting, the “featured” reading on this page, is exceptional for its detailed and transparent explanation of who targets for this initiative were established.

For incorporating separate targets for men and women on performance indicators into a PMP, the table below from USAID/Afghanistan's Alternative Livelihoods program is a useful example of good practice.

Performance Indicators Number & Description
Level & Name  Number & Description  Baseline Planned & Actual 2006 2007 2008
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9 Q10 Q11 Q12
Productive Agricultural Enterprises Expanded in Target Areas
Indicator 1.a: Total Number of Enterprises Improved in focus areas and clusters. * Planned  5 15 25 35 45 60 75 90 105 135 165 175
Actual  5 15                    
Indicator 1.b: Areas of iliciit cultivation * derived from area of poppy cultivated in Badakhshan and Takhar from UNODC data. (in thousands of ha.) 53 Planned 55 57 60 60 62 65 68 70 72 75  78 80
Actual 55 55                    
Licit Employment Increased in Target Areas

Indicator 1.c: Total number of jobs created through expansion of licit activities from all IRs (in thousands). *
M=Male; F=Female


M Planned

 2 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25
F Planned  0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
M Actual  2  6                    
F Actual  0 0.02