Advertisement

Serving the Public, But Not Public Servants?

  • Sue OlneyEmail author
Living reference work entry
  • 10 Downloads

Abstract

In 1980, Michael Lipsky argued that frontline government workers held “the keys to a dimension of citizenship” for people interacting involuntarily with public services. Since then, waves of reform have thrust nongovernment actors into that role by proxy. Under political and economic pressure to be lean, accountable, and efficient in providing public services, many governments now rely on external agents, contractors, markets, and artificial intelligence to deliver public policy outcomes. The emerging institutional landscape is a dynamic mix of government and nongovernment actors collecting and interpreting data and delivering services to citizen “clients” within a complex web of governance structures, legislation, performance measures, funding mechanisms, rules, processes, technology, norms, and philosophical standpoints. Who is serving the public in this environment, where the lines between public interest and private interest are blurred? Exploring trajectories of reform and the public servant, this chapter discusses the rise of the “nonpublic servant” as the frontline of government, the shifting boundaries of accountability and interaction between business, civil society and the state in prioritizing, designing and delivering public services, and the implications for citizens. Just who the “public servant” is in this landscape is open to debate.

Keywords

Public administration Street-level bureaucracy Marketization Reform 

References

  1. Alford, J., and J. O’Flynn. 2012. Rethinking public service delivery: Managing with external providers. Macmillan: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Althaus, C., P. Bridgman, and G. Davis. 2013. The Australian policy handbook: A practical guide to the policy making process. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Government. 2015. Jobactive: The purchasing process, Factsheet. Canberra: Department of Employment.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Human Rights Commission. 2018. Human rights and technology issues paper. Australian Human Rights Commission: Sydney.Google Scholar
  5. Australian Senate. 2017 Report: design, scope, cost–benefit analysis, contracts awarded and implementation associated with the better management of the social welfare system initiative, 21 June. Canberra: Parliament of Australia.Google Scholar
  6. Bacchi, C. 2009. Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  7. Barlow, J., and M. Röber. 1996. Steering not rowing. International Journal of Public Sector Management 9 (5/6): 73–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cahill, D., and P. Toner, eds. 2018. Wrong way: How privatisation and economic reform has backfired. Carlton: Black Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Carey, G., H. Dickinson, E. Malbon, and D. Reeders. 2018. The vexed question of market stewardship in the public sector: Examining equity and the social contract through the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme. Social Policy and Administration 52: 387–407.  https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carey, G., B. Crammond, and E. Malbon. 2019. Personalisation schemes in social care and inequality: Review of the evidence and early theorising. International Journal for Equity in Health 18: 170.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-019-1075-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Considine, M., and J. Lewis. 1999. Governance at ground level: The frontline bureaucrat in the age of markets and networks. Public Administration Review 59 (6): 467–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Considine, M., J.M. Lewis, and S. O’Sullivan. 2011. Quasi-markets and service delivery flexibility following a decade of employment assistance reform in Australia. Journal of Social Policy 40 (4): 811–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Department of Social Services. 2016. NDIA partners in the community – Local area coordination services and early childhood early intervention services. https://www.dss.gov.au/grants/grants/ndia-partners-in-the-community-local-area-coordination-services-and-early-childhood-early-intervention-services
  14. Dickinson, H. 2016. From new public management to new public governance: The implications for a ‘new public service’. In The three sector solution: Delivering public policy in collaboration with no-for-profits and business, ed. J. Butcher and D. Gilchrist, 41–60. Canberra: ANU Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dickinson, H., and H. Sullivan. 2016. Collaboration as cultural performance: Agency and efficacy. In Creating and implementing public policy: Cross-sectoral debates, ed. G. Carey, K. Landvogt, and J. Barraket, 207–222. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Dickinson, H., C. Needham, C. Mangan, and H. Sullivan. 2018. Reimagining the future public service workforce. Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. DiMaggio, P.J., and W.W. Powell. 1983. The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review 48 (2): 147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eubanks, V. 2018. Automating inequality: How high-tech tools profile, police, and punish the poor. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  19. Federal Court of Australia. 2019. No: VID611/2019 Deanna Amato v The Commonwealth of Australia, Presiding Officer Justice Davies, Dismissed by Consent. https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/VID611/2019/3859485/event/30114114/document/1513665
  20. Gardner, K., S. Olney, and H. Dickinson. 2018. Getting smarter with data: Understanding tensions in in the use of data in assurance and improvement-oriented performance management systems to improve their implementation. Health Research Policy and Systems 16: 125.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-018-0401-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Giddens, A. 1994. Beyond left and right: The future of radical politics. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Goldsmith, S., and W.D. Eggers. 2004. Governing by network: The new shape of the public sector. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gordon Legal. 2019. Robodebt class action. https://gordonlegal.com.au/robodebt-class-action
  24. Government of Western Australia. 2019. What is the public sector? Public Sector Commission. https://publicsector.wa.gov.au/about-us/what-public-sector
  25. Herd, P., and D. Moynihan. 2018. Administrative burden: Policymaking by other means. Chicago: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Heugens, P., and M.W. Lander. 2009. Structure! Agency! (and other quarrels): A meta-analysis of institutional theories of organisation. Academy of Management Journal 52 (1): 61–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hood, C. 1995. The “new public management” in the 1980s: Variations on a theme. Accounting, Organisations and Society 20(2/3): 93–109. Great Britain: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  28. Hughes, O. 2003. Public management & administration. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  29. Institute for Government. 2019. Government outsourcing: What has worked and what needs reform? https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/government-outsourcing-reform
  30. Johnston, A.D. 2018. The NDIS: The mark of pre-war or post-war public policy making?. Humanity, Special Issue: Making a Mark, University of Newcastle and Macquarie University.Google Scholar
  31. Lipsky, M. 1969. Toward a theory of street-level bureaucracy: Institute for research on poverty discussion papers, 1969 Annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. Commodore Hotel, New York, 2–6 Sept 1969.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 1980. Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 2010. Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public services, 30th Anniversary expanded edition, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  34. Moore, M. 1995. Creating public value: Strategic management in government. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  35. National Disability Insurance Agency. 2019. NDIS annual report 2018–2019. https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/publications/annual-report#annual-report-2018-19
  36. National Disability Insurance Scheme Act. 2013. Australian Government. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00020
  37. New Zealand Government. 2019. What is the ‘public sector’?. State Services Commission Te Kawa Mataaho.Google Scholar
  38. NSW Public Service Commission. 2019. About the NSW public sector. https://www.psc.nsw.gov.au/about-us/about-the-sector
  39. O’Neil, C. 2016. Weapons of math destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. New York: Crown Publishers.Google Scholar
  40. O’Sullivan, S., and C. Walker. 2018. From the interpersonal to the internet: Social service digitisation and the implications for vulnerable individuals and communities. Australian Journal of Political Science 53 (4): 490–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Olney, S., and W. Gallet. 2018. Markets, mutual obligation and marginalisation: The evolution of employment services in Australia. In Wrong way how privatisation and economic reform backfired, ed. D. Cahill and P. Toner, 131–146. Melbourne: Black Inc.Google Scholar
  42. Osborne, S.P. 2006. The new public governance? Public Management Review 8 (3): 377–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Parliament of Australia. 2019a. Jobactive: Failing those it is intended to serve, Report from the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment inquiry into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of jobactive. https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Education_and_Employment/JobActive2018/Report
  44. ———. 2019b. Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Inquiries. https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/National_Disability_Insurance_Scheme
  45. ———. 2019c. Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme inquiry into NDIS Planning: Interim report. https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/National_Disability_Insurance_Scheme/NDISPlanning/Interim_Report
  46. Public Administration Act. 2004. Government of Victoria. http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/vic/consol_act/paa2004230/
  47. Public Sector Employment and Management Act. 2002. No 43 NSW Government. https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/2002/43/chap2/part2.1/sec6
  48. Public Service Employment Act. 2003. Government of Canada. https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/P-33.01/FullText.html
  49. Rhodes, R.A.W. 1998. Different roads to unfamiliar places: UK experience in comparative perspective. Australian Journal of Public Administration 57 (4): 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Somers, M.R. 2008. Genealogies of citizenship: Markets, statelessness, and the right to have rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Streeck, W., and K. Thelen. 2005. Introduction: Institutional change in advanced political economies. In Beyond continuity: Institutional change in advanced political economies, ed. W. Streeck and K. Thelen. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. The Age. 2017. Outsourcing Centrelink calls to Serco may well fail to meet clients’ needs’ Editorial, 12 Oct 2017. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/outsourcing-centrelink-calls-to-serco-may-well-fail-to-meet-clients-needs-20171012-gyzuwu.html
  53. United Nations. 2018. United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV human rights 15. Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-15&chapter=4&clang=_en

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.UNSW CanberraCanberraAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Janine O'Flynn
    • 1
    • 2
  • Avery Poole
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.The University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)MelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National UniversityCarltonAustralia
  4. 4.The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)CarltonAustralia

Personalised recommendations