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A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?Evaluating Three Decades of Reform and Change in UK Central Government$
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Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 07 March 2021

The General Background

The General Background

What Changed and What Didn’t in the UK Central Governance Landscape

(p.20) 2 The General Background
A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?

Christopher Hood

Ruth Dixon

Oxford University Press

This background chapter lays out what happened to some of the major features of UK central government over thirty years—for example in features such as the size of the cabinet, the number of government agencies and ‘quangos’, the size and shape of the civil service, and the overall pattern of public spending. The chapter explores what changed and what remained relatively constant under four broad headings, namely, the basic legislative, electoral, and constitutional features of the UK as a state; the place of the bureaucracy in the political system and related public service bargains; the place of government in the economy and wider society; and the technology (particularly information technology) of government. Under most of those headings, there were continuities as well as changes, and it is necessary to identify both to put efforts to cut cost and maintain or improve the quality of administration into perspective.

Keywords:   government, bureaucracy, public service bargains, information technology, civil service, public spending

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