By Bruce L. R. Smith and D. C. Hague
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Extra resources for The Dilemma of Accountability in Modern Government: Independence versus Control
57 If the department has no clear policy, or is deeply divided on what it seeks to accomplish through the delegation of a task to a private institution, the conflict will be carried over, and compounded, in the private institution. 35 The quality of management in the private sector The interrelations between government officials and the management officials of the private institution performing a public assignment pose intricate problems. If the government lacks confidence in the private institution's management, the tendency will be strong to intervene obtrusively into what would normally be the prerogatives of private management.
What is the appropriate balance to be struck among the values offered by different ways of doing things, granted that in most cases some mixture of public and private energies will be involved? The limited and traditional 'public-private' vocabulary in which we discuss the issues betrays the need to devise a more subtle and discriminating analytical perspective. Implicit in the calls for 'reprivatisation' is the notion that, by relieving the central government of some burdens, accountability for certain other things at the central level can be made more meaningful.
Professional staff members sometimes wish to deal directly with government officials without review from their own supervisors (and, of course, frequent staff contacts at the working level cannot and should not be avoided with many types of activities). Similarly, there are temptations for public officials to circumvent 36 the private institution's management in order to secure directly the services of particular individuals or departments. But such practices tend to undermine orderly working relationships, and to work against the creation of well-managed, resourceful institutions or bodies with which the government can deal on a basis of confidence and respect.
The Dilemma of Accountability in Modern Government: Independence versus Control by Bruce L. R. Smith and D. C. Hague