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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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Comparative Perspectives on Performance

Comparative Perspectives on Performance

(p.128) 7 Comparative Perspectives on Performance
A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?

Christopher Hood

Ruth Dixon

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 compares UK central government cost and performance with other countries in such cross-national benchmarking studies as are available, with English local government (often said to embody different approaches and cultures), with central executive agencies at arms-length from central departments, and with the Scottish group of departments and agencies which arguably comprise an administrative culture distinctive from that in the rest of the UK. The analysis reveals little evidence that the UK was a notable outlier in cross-national comparisons of quality and efficiency. It also shows relatively little evidence of difference in running costs or administrative performance between UK central government and the other comparators, particularly if attention is placed on ‘slopes’ rather than ‘levels’ in comparison. That analysis raises questions as to whether higher running costs and increasing complaints and litigation are a general condition of public administration today rather than peculiar to UK central government.

Keywords:   Scotland, local government, executive agencies, running costs, benchmarking, culture, comparators

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