The Council on Municipal Performance (COMP) was founded in New York City in 1973 by John Tepper Marlin to pursue the idea of rating cities and other units of governments with the idea of first identifying the best and worst performers, then studying the reasons for success or relative failure and arriving at best-practice recommendations.
The Council applied the concept to City Crime, City Housing, The Wealth of Cities (City Economies), City Budgets, City Air Quality, City Transportation and School Health Services. The Council contributed to the debate over neighborhood redlining with a study of Reinvestment Issues.
During the New York City fiscal crisis in the mid-1970s, the Council conducted comparative reports on community boards within New York City, advocating coterminality. It studied relative crime rates (and a single police precinct) and sanitation performance.
The lack of common standards brought the Council to study government accounting methods and it made a number of recommendations to the Government Accounting Standards Board. It produced a guide to auditing for local government officials.
The Council also turned its attention to municipal finance. It produced a ten-volume series of reports on municipal securities regulation and a guide to municipal officials selling their bonds. The outcome of a flurry of contemporary municipal-securities-reform ideas was the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, the executive director of which was until 2007 Christopher Taylor.
Within New York State, the Council compared the measures and levels of services of certain key functions in selected counties that agreed to cooperate, with the idea of creating benchmarks for future study.
The research led to public-private service comparisons, and the Council published a newsletter, the "Privatization Report" for several years. The Council conducted a study of the use of private delivery of public services in Japan. The Council compared the management of the contracting process in different municipalities. This research led to recommendations and a book on privatization in local government, Contracting Municipal Services.
In 1987 the Council merged with the National Municipal League.