Comprehensive Performance Assessment
: A reflection on the experiences of English local authorities

  • Julie McDonald

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


The changes introduced by successive governments in the United Kingdom have had a significant impact on the way performance is measured in the public sector. Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) was one of many initiatives introduced by ‘New Labour’ as part of their modernisation agenda. Comprehensive performance assessment (CPA was introduced to provide a more integrated performance framework for measuring the performance of local authorities in England. The focus of this initiative was on continuous
improvement in the quality and delivery of the services offered by local authorities (ODPM, 2005). At the time of its introduction, CPA was seen as the most ambitious attempt yet to measure the performance of a set of public sector organisations (Boyne and Enticott, 2004). CPA lasted from 2002 to 2008 and during that period the empirical evidence supports the claim that there had been a noticeable improvement in the services offered by local authorities but
despite this evidence, the CPA framework has been subject to extensive criticism. The purpose of the present study is to provide a better understanding of a significant period in the history of English local authorities.

This is a qualitative study. The thesis combined the experiences of practitioners in local authorities and representatives of the Audit Commission in a reflective study. Data was gathered from an online questionnaire followed by semi-structured interviews. The main focus of the study will be to recount the experiences of practitioners in making a judgment on whether CPA has improved performance in English local authorities, and defining some of the contributory and hindering factors to the successful performance of local authorities.
Date of AwardJun 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorStan Brignall (Supervisor) & Melina Manochin (Supervisor)


  • Comprehensive Performance Assessment
  • CPA
  • New Public Management
  • NPM
  • local government
  • performance management system
  • performance measures
  • Miles and Snow typology
  • success and improvement

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