Time to Gauge Your Performance

January 7, 2019, Department, by Kevin Roth, Ph.D.

2019 January Research Time to Gauge Your Performance 410

Take a few minutes to complete the NRPA Agency Performance Survey

The new year brings hope and optimism for the future, and with that a set of goals and resolutions with which we aim to improve ourselves and the communities around us. Many of these goals focus on wellness — perhaps to be more physically active or to eat better — or lending a hand to a neighbor in need. Each of these goals and resolutions, even if not fully realized, highlight our never-ending quest to make tomorrow better than today.

This quest extends to parks and recreation, and it is made possible through the gift of sharing data. By giving 15 to 30 minutes of your time, you not only will provide park and recreation agencies like yours with access to invaluable peer insight, but you also will help identify steps your agency can take to ensure that it is serving your community to the best of its ability. You can do this by making sure your agency has entered and updated its data in NRPA Park Metrics.

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 2018 data through the Agency Performance Survey. The data collected through this survey is the basis of the annual NRPA Agency Performance Review (APR) that we will include with the April issue of Parks & Recreation magazine.

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. This year’s report highlights the mission and characteristics of more than 1,000 park and recreation agencies.

Your agency has access to a wealth of data to assist in making the most-informed decisions using peer agencies as your reference. This includes access to large agencies located in urban settings and smaller agencies that serve just a few hundred residents in a small rural town. These resources have a real impact on agency strategic planning, budgeting and staffing.

It is crucial, however, that we hear from you. The impact of Park Metrics and the Agency Performance Review can only be as robust as the amount of information you and your colleagues contribute.

The basis of these resources is a 31-question survey that takes many first-time agencies less than a half- hour to complete, featuring questions that are relevant to a majority of park and recreation agencies. We have organized the questionnaire into nine 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)
  • Policies (bans on tobacco, selling of alcohol, healthy food in concessions)

Agencies that have maintained Park Metrics data in recent years can refresh their data for 2018 even more quickly. All you would need to do is click on the green “Copy Data From Existing Year” button in the upper right part of the data entry page to copy a prior year’s data into the 2018 survey. From there, you can make any relevant changes (e.g., budget, personnel, newly built sports field) without needing to enter data that has not changed recently.

As an incentive for your agency to enter or update its Park Metrics data, all agencies with complete 2018 data will receive a customized Agency Performance Report that compares their agency’s performance to that of their peers. This report will help you and your colleagues make better informed decisions and help your agency be more effective and efficient. To make sure you receive this customized Agency Performance Report later this spring, please make sure you have entered your agency’s 2018 data into Park Metrics by the end of January.

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 2018 NRPA Agency Performance Review report and 22 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

Additionally, you can take the analysis even further with a custom reporting tool that allows you to design and compare your agency against its peer group. Each of these valuable resources is only further enhanced when you complete the 2018 Agency Performance Survey in NRPA Park Metrics today.

With a half-hour of your time, you and your agency can have a real, lasting impact on parks and recreation throughout our nation. Visit NRPA metrics and select “Enter Your Agency’s Data” to begin inputting or updating your agency information today. If you need assistance, contact Greg Manns or Melissa May.

In the coming weeks, we will be putting the final touches on the 2019 NRPA Agency Performance Review. It just would not be the same report without hearing from your agency. Please let us know how we can help fulfill this resolution.

Kevin Roth, Ph.D., is NRPA’s Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology.