Park Metrics: A Little Investment of Time for a Wealth of Information

January 2, 2018, Department, by Kevin Roth, Ph.D.

2018 January Research Park Metrics 410

It is that time of the year when the simple act of setting aside 15–30 minutes of your time can have a positive impact on our industry. Those 15–30 minutes spent either entering or updating your agency’s information in NRPA Park Metrics not only will provide other agencies like yours with access to invaluable peer insight, but also will help you identify steps your agency can take to ensure that it is best serving your community.

NRPA Park Metrics is the most comprehensive source of data standards and insights for park and recreation agencies across the United States. We are in the final stretch of collecting 2017 data, and you can help by completing your Agency Performance Survey. The data collected through this survey is the basis of the annual NRPA Agency Performance Review (APR) that will be published later this spring.

The APR presents a comprehensive profile of local and regional park and recreation agencies in the United States. There is no other industry benchmarking resource that provides you with more powerful data and insights to help you gauge your agency’s performance against those of its peers. Last year’s report contained the insights of nearly 1,000 park and recreation agencies, providing our field with a wealth of data. This includes every type of agency, spanning from large systems located in urban settings to smaller agencies that serve just a few hundred residents in small, rural towns.

The NRPA Research team has had the opportunity to speak with many of your peers over the past year. What you have told us is that the data presented in both Park Metrics and the NRPA Agency Performance Review have had a real impact on agency strategic planning and budgeting. However, these tools are only as good as the information contributed, so having your agency’s data in Park Metrics is imperative.

Park Metrics is the slimmed-down, streamlined questionnaire, based on the old PRORAGIS system. If you have not already checked out the survey instrument, you will see that the 30-question survey takes far less time to complete and only asks questions that are relevant to a majority of park and recreation agencies. We have organized the questionnaire into eight different sections:

  • Jurisdiction (location, population, size of area served)
  • Agency Operations (operating expenditures, revenue sources)
  • Capital Budget (current year, five-year capital budget)
  • Personnel (FTE counts, distribution of responsibilities)
  • Workload (number of parks and buildings, mileage of trails, number of people served)
  • Agency Responsibilities (what agencies operate, maintain, contract)
  • Facilities (counts of facilities, athletic fields)
  • Activities (sports leagues, cultural offerings, out-of-school time programs)

Most agencies new to Park Metrics will be able to complete this year’s Agency Performance Survey in 30 minutes or less. Even better, agencies that have entered Park Metrics (PRORAGIS) data in recent years will likely be able to update their 2017 data in fewer than 15 minutes. All that’s needed is to click on the green “Copy Data From Existing Year” button in the upper-right corner of the data-entry page to copy a prior year’s data into the 2017 survey. From there, updates to the 2017 data can be made (e.g., budget, personnel, newly built sports field) while not needing to fill in static answers. 

With this easy-to-complete survey and the ability to push prior year’s data into it, entering or updating your agency’s 2017 data in NRPA Park Metrics couldn’t be simpler. And, for taking the time to enter or update your Park Metrics data for 2017, you will receive a customized Agency Performance Report that shows your agency’s performance compared to that of other agencies just like yours. This report will help you and your colleagues make better informed decisions and help your agency be more effective and efficient. If we have your agency’s data in Park Metrics by the end of January, you will receive this customized Agency Performance Report later this spring. In the coming weeks, we will be putting the finishing touches on the 2017 NRPA Agency Performance Review, so please add your information by the end of January. It just would not be the same report without hearing from your agency.

After you complete the survey, check out the many resources available to you today — thanks to the more than 1,000 agencies that have kept their information up to date in Park Metrics. This starts with access to the 2017 NRPA Agency Performance Review report and 21 interactive charts on our website that present all the insights of the report cross-tabbed by agency characteristics, such as:

  • Acres of parkland maintained by agency
  • Budget size
  • Jurisdiction population and type
  • Number of FTEs
  • Number of parks maintained
  • Population per square mile
  • Region of the United States

In addition, you can take the analysis further with a custom reporting tool that allows you to design your agency’s peer group so you can compare your agency with others from across our nation. Each of these valuable resources is only further enhanced with you completing the 2017 Agency Performance Survey in NRPA Park Metrics today.

Visit our website and select “Enter Your Agency’s Data” to begin inputting or updating your agency information today. If you need assistance, contact Greg Manns, Melissa May or me, Kevin Roth.

We would be glad to lend you a hand.

Kevin Roth, Ph.D., is NRPA’s Vice President of Research.