UK agency autonomy: Not what it seems
Britain’s “Next Steps” program was supposed to redefine the bargain between ministers and senior public service executives, granting more autonomy in exchange for more direct accountability. But it hasn’t always worked out that way, Thomas Elston explains. We need to distinguish explicit and tacit aspects of the “public service bargain,” and recognize that these two aspects move “in and out of alignment with each other.” In the UK justice sector, oversight of agencies is “far more hierarchical and contract based.” But the appearance of independence allows politicians to make more intricate calculations about credit-claiming or blame-avoiding for agency activities. Read the article.