Opportunities spurned: a critical review of policy development, service delivery and public assurance in public services

Murphy, P. ORCID: 0000-0001-8459-4448, 2019. Opportunities spurned: a critical review of policy development, service delivery and public assurance in public services. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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National Frameworks or performance regimes for individual public services or for sectors of the public services have become increasingly popular with successive governments in the UK since the New Labour administrations of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Since the advent of joined-up government introduced by the modernisation agenda of the first New Labour administration, governments have attempted to adopt a more strategic approach to policy and delivery of public services. Successive governments have produced more holistic policy and guidance that includes central government policy supplemented by advice, guidance and sometimes regulation on how public agencies should deliver the services. These have invariably been accompanied by revised arrangements intended to improve accountability and transparency and ultimately public assurance.

National frameworks, or regimes, attempt to bring these three areas of policy development, service delivery and public assurance into a mutually supportive, coherent and joined-up approach. They are defined as “the context, the parameters, the agencies and the relationships operating within the three domains of policy development, service delivery and public assurance in public services or sectors” (Murphy, et al. 2018a). A conceptual model has been developed to show how the different parts of the frameworks are configured and inter-relate (Murphy and Lakoma 2019), and this also serves to show which aspects of the frameworks or regimes are investigated in the twelve individual papers that are included in the submission.

The publications that comprise this submission, and the research that underpinned them, fall into three types. The first type are critical reviews of a particular national framework or regime for a service or sector as a whole, which highlight inadequacies, omissions or potential improvements to the framework. Secondly, there are papers that are critical reviews across successive regimes or frameworks in a particular service or sector. Thirdly, there are critical reviews of individual parts, components or aspects of a particular service or sector. All of them share the same objective i.e. to highlight inadequacies, omissions or potential improvements. The particular focus of the individual papers submitted are shown in Table 1 containing the list of publications that also provides a simple taxonomy of the publication types.

The frameworks, the individual components, and/or any proposals for change are reviewed from the perspective of three statutory requirements. These three statutory requirements relate to all locally delivered public services within the four sectors investigated by the published papers, namely Local Authorities, Health and Social Care, the Police and Fire and Rescue Services.

Throughout the study period these services and sectors, and the organisations that deliver these services, have been required, individually and collectively, to facilitate continuous improvement, to provide value for money and to deliver more accountable and transparent public assurance arrangements. These three statutory requirements are the underpinning objectives for all public service delivery in the UK since 1999. In all of the papers that follow they have been the common overarching objectives that form the basis of the evaluations. They are therefore the basis of the review of existing whole regimes in some of the papers; for the review of proposals for the replacement of whole frameworks or successive frameworks, or to the replacement of significant parts of frameworks or regimes. In some cases they also help to highlight realistic and feasible alternative arrangements, which, if adopted, could have better met the statutory requirements.

The conceptual model is used as an analytical tool in order to evaluate individual frameworks/regimes or successive versions of frameworks or parts of frameworks. The model provides a coherent overview which potentially can be used to facilitate future evaluation of changes to frameworks or their constituent parts.

Both the introductory chapter and the individual publications demonstrate how policy development, service delivery and/or public assurance arrangements in the four public services or sectors can be better understood, assessed and potentially improved, while acknowledging the appropriate financial and legislative parameters. Attempting to bring them together in a single framework enhances public understanding and encourages engagement as well as improving the potential to achieve better multiple-agency co-operation, continuous improvement in service delivery and value for money.

Collectively the publications also reveal a reluctance on the part of recent UK governments, and their advisers, to learn from good practice, from previous frameworks or from frameworks in alternative services or sectors. They also demonstrate an insularity to innovations, new initiatives and examples of good practice from previous administrations and from international practice.

Item Type: Thesis
Description: PhD by Published Works
Creators: Murphy, P.
Date: November 2019
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author and the publishers of the journals listed below. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 27 Nov 2019 11:43
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2019 14:23
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/38570

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