Scaffale: A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?: Evaluating Three Decades of Reform and Change in UK Central Government

Hood C., Dixon R. - Oxford University Press, 2015 - Manuale - Inglese

UK central government is said to have been one of the most prolific reformers of its public administration over the past few decades, a poster-child of ‘New Public Management’. Successive reforms were accompanied by lofty claims that the changes would transform the way government worked. Government would become more efficient (delivering services more economically, for example by competition or outsourcing) or more effective and user-friendly (more responsive to citizens, for example by clearer performance frameworks, better use of information technology), or both. Despite much debate over government reforms, however, there has been remarkably little systematic evaluation of the cost and performance of UK government over the past thirty years. This book tests the claims of both proponents and detractors of government modernization programmes by carefully compiling and analysing data relating to cost and performance of UK central government over three decades. It shows that, confounding expectations of both sets of commentators, not only did the reform efforts largely fail to cut costs, but the increased spending did not result in greater fairness and consistency in government decisions. This book also shows that, despite the rhetoric of ‘evidence-based policy’, the way in which official records change over time makes such evidence increasingly volatile and hard to evaluate. Its findings pose an important challenge for public management in the 2010s and 2020s, when demands for government to cost less and work better are likely to intensify.

Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon

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