Discuss how the tendency of New Public Management has impacted on
decision making in UK public policy.
New Public Management is generally used to describe a management
culture that emphasises upon the citizen or customer as being central,
as well as having accountability for results. It also suggests
organizational structures and promotes decentralized control, many
different types of service delivery mechanisms, including
quasi-markets with public and private service providers competing for
resources. New Public Management does not suggest that a government
should stop performing certain tasks. Although the New Public
Management often is associated with such a perspective on a policy
level, New Public Management is not about whether tasks should be
undertaken or not. It is about getting things done better.
New Public Management was devised as a means to improve efficiency and
responsiveness to political changes. Its origins were in parliamentary
democracies with excessively strong executive powers, centralized
governments, and not much administrative law. In this setting, New
Public Management embodies the idea of a chain of contracts leading to
a single ministerial person who is interested in getting better
results within a sector over which he or she has significant and
relatively unchallenged control.
One area of reform that illustrates many of the New Public Management
principles is the creation of QUANGOs (Quasi-autonomous
non-governmental organisations) to carry out the service delivery. The
New Public Management argument for agencies is that service providers
should concentrate on efficient production of quality services, with
the distractions of evaluating alternative policies removed. The
discussion of the creation of “executive agencies” in the UK and the
similar developments in Australia, Canada and France has been common
with references to clear, well-defined targets that allow providers to
concentrate on their main business. Similarly, policy-making is seen
to be more focused, more rigorous, and sometimes even more adventurous
if it can be made without the burden of concern for the existing
service providers. Once purchasing has been detached from
policy-making, there are opportunities for creating contract-like
arrangements to provide performance incentives.
A pandemic of public sector management reforms has occurred during the
last twenty years. Under the banner of ‘new public management’,
governments across the globe have reorganised, restructured and
reinvented public services in an attempt to achieve higher
performance. These reforms have been inspired by a variety of
ideas, from neo-classical economics to popular management best-sellers
on organizational improvement.
A common feature of countries going down the New Public Management
route has been the experience of economic and fiscal crises, which
triggered the quest for efficiency and for ways to cut the cost of...