Journal Article

Aligning goals, intents, and performance indicators in family planning service delivery

A flurry of policy initiatives in the fields of both population and development and reproductive health, many addressing the provision of family planning services, are currently underway: FP2020, the ICPD Beyond 2014, and the post- 2015 development agenda, among others. This is an opportune time, therefore, to reflect upon and take into consideration what five decades of family planning programs can teach us about ensuring that policies and programs integrate their underlying intents, concrete goals, and performance indicators. The family planning field has encountered instances in its history when inconsistencies between goals, intents, and indicators arose and adversely affected the delivery of services. This commentary presents our observations concerning potential misalignments that may arise within the many promising initiatives underway. We examine the relationship between the intent, goal, and indicators of FP2020 as a case study highlighting the need for ensuring a tight alignment. We offer suggestions for ensuring that this and other initiatives use carefully calibrated indicators to guide the achievement of explicit program goals without undermining their underlying intent—namely, promoting well-being and reproductive rights.