Operating room (OR) efficiency continues to be a high priority for hospitals. In this context the concept of benchmarking has gained increasing importance as a means to improve OR performance. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how participation in a benchmarking and reporting program for surgical process data was associated with a change in OR efficiency, measured through raw utilization, turnover times, and first-case tardiness. The main analysis is based on panel data from 202 surgical departments in German hospitals, which were derived from the largest database for surgical process data in Germany. Panel regression modelling was applied. Results revealed no clear and univocal trend of participation in a benchmarking and reporting program for surgical process data. The largest trend was observed for first-case tardiness. In contrast to expectations, turnover times showed a generally increasing trend during participation. For raw utilization no clear and statistically significant trend could be evidenced. Subgroup analyses revealed differences in effects across different hospital types and department specialties. Participation in a benchmarking and reporting program and thus the availability of reliable, timely and detailed analysis tools to support the OR management seemed to be correlated especially with an increase in the timeliness of staff members regarding first-case starts. The increasing trend in turnover time revealed the absence of effective strategies to improve this aspect of OR efficiency in German hospitals and could have meaningful consequences for the medium- and long-run capacity planning in the OR.