Implementing Outcomes Based Accountability in Children's Services: An overview of the process and impact

Sarah Golden, Tamsin Chamberlain, Fiona Walker

15 July 2010

The Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) model has been used as a way of structuring planning to improve outcomes for whole populations and for improving services. The OBA approach focuses on outcomes that are desired and monitoring and evidencing progress towards those desired outcomes. NFER was commissioned by Local Government Association Analysis and Research (LGAAR), on behalf of Local Government Improvement and Development, to identify the impact of the OBA approach on LA practice in Children's Services through nine case studies (18 interviews with strategic and operational staff). The main findings are presented in a thematic report and further details are reported through nine case studies.

The research found evidence to suggest that:

  • at a comparatively early stage in its use, OBA was contributing to improved outcomes for children and young people in a few instances. In the main, however, at this stage the use of OBA was having an impact on working practices
  • as interviewees were adopting the OBA methodology, they were learning and, through their fuller understanding, adapting the approach to enable them to make best use of it
  • the process of implementing OBA benefited from the support of Directors of Children's Services and equivalent Tier 1 officers
  • while OBA can appear initially to be a simple approach for focusing on outcomes, fuller engagement with the approach showed that it is complex. Consequently, it is evident that in adopting OBA, Children's Services authorities needed to allow time to fully understand the concepts and terminology and to ensure these are mutually understood.

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