Rethinking Post-NPM Governance: The Bureaucratic Struggle to Implement One-Stop-Shopping for Government Services in Alberta
New public management reforms have delivered many benefits and also generated numerous administrative challenges. Chief among the latter is increased fragmentation of public services and resulting problems of service delivery coordination. Recent research on "post-NPM" governance suggests political executives have tried to rectify these coordination problems by vertically reintegrating devolved and outsourced service delivery functions into new centrally controlled service agencies. Research also suggests public servants oppose post-NPM integration because it threatens their devolved powers. This article uses an empirical case study of the Government of Alberta's one-stop-shop service delivery initiative to determine the contemporary drivers of and obstacles to service integration. The study shows provincial bureaucrats pushed for the integrated one-stop-shop while the political executive defended the existing NPM-era outsourced delivery network. In the case of Alberta the emerging theory of post-NPM misconstrues the drivers and impediments of service integration. Bureaucrats in jurisdictions such as Alberta that pursued outsourcing and public service retrenchment are likely to champion integration reforms such as one-stop-shops because these delivery models favour implementation via public agencies and thus provide a new rationale for public service provision. These findings show bureaucrats are playing a larger and more constructive role in post-NPM efforts to overcome the deficiencies of the new public management. Furthermore, they highlight the need to rethink established assumptions about bureaucratic attitudes and responses to administrative fragmentation.
Public Organization Review