Rediscovering Implementation: public sector contracting and human services

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Davis, Glyn
Chalmers, Jim
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2001
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Abstract

There is vast literature on how to implement public policies, with endless case studies emphasising a few key lessons. The drive to contracting in the public sector raises familiar threats to coherent program implementation, and adds those of control and incentives. Contracting fragments program responsibility among multiple contractors, and separates policy agencies from service delivery contractors. It raises questions about political control and accountability, and the prospect of gaps between intention and outcome. This paper 'rediscovers implementation' by reviewing the practical difficulties of constructing public-private relationships which can deliver quality human services. After considering broad arguments about the efficacy of contracting, the paper turns to the provision of human services by examining the contracting out of welfare services and the Job Network. Our argument is modest: that public sector contracting fails if the challenges of implementation are not addressed explicitly, since service delivery through the private sector can falter for exactly the same reasons as traditional public bureaucracies.

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Australian Journal of Public Administration

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60

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2

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© 2001 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at [www.blackwell-synergy.com.]

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Economics

Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

Studies in Human Society

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