Brabo: Management by objectives

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


In 2003 an in-depth assessment conducted by an external agency defined the major weaknesses and opportunities for improvement of the Province of Antwerp. The Province (Provant) decided to start working on the modernisation of the administration.

Thus, an ambitious project was launched in 2004 and finished in 2008, called the Brabo programme, consisting of the implementation of Management by Objectives (MBO) and the related management processes for the translation of policy into pragmatic strategic and operational objectives at all levels of the Province of Antwerp. A link between the budgeting and policy-making processes has been created in order to evaluate the impact of budget decisions on the established objectives, and the consequences for the budget of the changing objectives.

The project consisted of four different phases that have been carried out from 2004 to 2008 in order to implement MBO: (1) simplification and optimisation of the budgeting process; (2) introduction of connections between policy making and budgeting processes; (3) translation of political aims into targets within a strategic plan, and (4) integration of points 1 to 3 using a Balanced Scorecard (BSC). In the first phase project activities were selected, structured and defined consistently across the organisation, which resulted in a set of activities per business unit. To connect the budgeting exercise with the policy-making process (second phase), budgets were calculated bottom-up, based on the different activities per departmental unit and objectives were set topdown, and in a participative way, through all management levels. This resulted in a set of strategic and operational objectives at the level of each policy domain which enabled the middle manager to link the activities and the operational objectives in order to see which activities were affected by what goal and thereby derive the budget implications. During the third phase, the political ambitions and targets were translated into strategic and derived operational objectives to guide the administration - and by doing so increase the effectiveness of the province’s administration. Based on individual interviews and workshops with the top management the strategic objectives were formulated and edited into a strategic plan with a time horizon of six years. Based upon this strategic plan, operational objectives with a time frame of one year were derived per business unit. For each operational objective at least one indicator was selected. The operational objectives were defined in meetings per business unit, chaired by the head of department and quality checked by an external consultant who trained top and middle management in the technique of formulating quality objectives and indicators. The fourth phase involved the implementation of MBO and the related governance and decision-making processes within the administration. Policy and financial management reports on reaching the objectives were drawn up. In order to support these reports, a BSC tool accessible by all data owners who monitor a set of indicators for their business unit has been developed and implemented.

In sum, the province of Antwerp has taken important steps towards an objective-oriented organisation due to the Brabo programme which is now fully integrated in the province’s regular operations.

Award info
Award category: leadership and change
Award type: submission
Award year: 2009
Project type
Sector: Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform
Type of activity: community and stakeholder participation
Keywords: Management by objectives; management reporting, policy and financial cycle
Short English description: In sum, the province of Antwerp has taken important steps towards an objective-oriented organisation due to the Brabo programme which is now fully integrated in the province’s regular operations
Further information
Organisation: Province of Antwerp
Other applicants:
Level of government: regional level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved:
Country: Belgium
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

Brabo: Management by objectives (51.2003343, 4.4107293)
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