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Report on Government Services 2017

Volume A

Glossary

The glossary of terms used in the Report on Government Services 2017

TermDefinition

Access

Measures how easily the community can obtain a delivered service (output).

Appropriateness

Measures how well services meet client needs and also seeks to identify the extent of any underservicing or overservicing.

Comparability

Data are considered comparable if, (subject to caveats) they can be used to inform an assessment of comparative performance. Typically, data are considered comparable when they are collected in the same way and in accordance with the same definitions. For comparable indicators or measures, significant differences in reported results allow an assessment of differences in performance, rather than being the result of anomalies in the data.

Completeness

Data are considered complete if all required data are available for all jurisdictions that provide the service.

Constant prices

See ‘real dollars’.

Cost effectiveness

Measures how well inputs (such as employees, cars and computers) are converted into outcomes for individual clients or the community. Cost effectiveness is expressed as a ratio of inputs to outcomes. For example, cost per life year saved is a cost effectiveness indicator reflecting the ratio of expenditure on breast cancer detection and management services (including mammographic screening services, primary care, chemotherapy, surgery and other forms of care) to the number of women’s lives that are saved.

Current prices

See ‘nominal dollars’.

Descriptors

Descriptive statistics included in the Report that relate, for example, to the size of the service system, funding arrangements, client mix and the environment within which government services are delivered. These data are provided to highlight and make more transparent the differences among jurisdictions.

Effectiveness

Reflects how well the outputs of a service achieve the stated objectives of that service (also see program effectiveness).

Efficiency

Reflects how resources (inputs) are used to produce outputs and outcomes, expressed as a ratio of outputs to inputs (technical efficiency), or inputs to outcomes (cost effectiveness). (Also see ‘cost effectiveness’ and ‘technical efficiency’.)

Equity

Measures the gap between service delivery outputs or outcomes for special needs groups and the general population. Equity of access relates to all Australians having adequate access to services, where the term adequate may mean different rates of access (depending on need) for different groups in the community.

Inputs

The resources (including land, labour and capital) used by a service area in providing the service.

Nominal dollars

Refers to financial data expressed ‘in the price of the day’ and which are not adjusted to remove the effects of inflation. Nominal dollars do not allow for inter-year comparisons because reported changes may reflect changes to financial levels (prices and/or expenditure) and adjustments to maintain purchasing power due to inflation.

Output

The service delivered by a service area, for example, a completed episode of care is an output of a public hospital.

Outcome

The impact of the service on the status of individuals or a group, and the success of the service area in achieving its overarching or high-level objectives. A service provider can influence an outcome but external factors can also apply. A desirable outcome for a school, for example, would be to add to the ability of the students to participate in, and interact with, society throughout their lives. Similarly, a desirable outcome for a hospital would be to improve the health status of an individual receiving a hospital service.

Process

Refers to the way in which a service is produced or delivered (that is, how inputs are transformed into outputs).

Program effectiveness

Reflects how well the outcomes of a service achieve the stated objectives of that service (also see effectiveness).

Quality

Reflects the extent to which a service is suited to its purpose and conforms to specifications.

Real dollars

Refers to financial data measured in prices from a constant base year to adjust for the effects of inflation. Real dollars allow the inter-year comparison of financial levels (prices and/or expenditure) by holding the purchasing power constant.

Technical efficiency

A measure of how well inputs (such as employees, cars and computers) are converted into service outputs (such as hospital separations, education classes or residential aged care places). Technical efficiency reflects the ratio of outputs to inputs. It is affected by the size of operations and by managerial practices. There is scope to improve technical efficiency if there is potential to increase the quantity of outputs produced from given quantities of inputs, or if there is potential to reduce the quantities of inputs used in producing a certain quantity of outputs.

Unit costs

Measures average cost, expressed as the level of inputs per unit of output. This is an indicator of efficiency.

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