Public Administration after "New Public Management"

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Public administration has entered a new age. In the 1980s, “less” government was the prevailing idea; in the 1990s and early 21st century, “New Public Management” was the dominant theme. Today, public administration is moving in new directions. Reforms are focusing on the quality of services for citizens and businesses and on the efficiency of administration (the “back office” of government). The OECD is studying these new trends in a multi-annual, cross-country project called “Value for Money in Government”.

This is the first report in a new OECD series on the topic. The book examines four themes in nine OECD countries: the development of shared service centres, the steering and control of agencies, automatic productivity cuts, and spending review procedures. In addition, it contains a quantitative analysis of the size of employment in central government. The countries studied are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The book pays particular attention to the case of the Netherlands, the country that first proposed an OECD study on value for money in government.




In July 2008 the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations asked the OECD to conduct a comparative study on the organisation of central government. The Dutch government had launched a reform initiative aimed at “better public service with fewer staff” as part of the coalition programme of the Cabinet that entered into office in 2007. The Dutch government felt that there was still ample room for efficiency improvement and a reason to “hold up existing work to the light and see whether it is still necessary”. A memorandum outlining the programme (Policy Document on Central Government Reform) was sent to Parliament on 25 September 2007.


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