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Public sector commissioning and the third sector: Old wine in new bottles?

Rees, James (2014). Public sector commissioning and the third sector: Old wine in new bottles? Public Policy and Administration, 29(1) pp. 45–63.

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Public sector commissioning has risen rapidly to prominence as the central mechanism for the ‘purchase’ of services in an increasingly mixed economy of public services in the UK and this has wide-ranging consequences for non-state actors including those in the third sector. Academic consideration of commissioning has been rather fragmented, concerned with particular service fields or sectors. This paper provides an overview, with a focus on the relationship between the state and the third sector. The paper begins by questioning whether commissioning is really ‘new’ or a continuation of exist- ing trends around procurement and contracting and whether it constitutes a genuinely transformative relationship between the state and third sector. It considers some core debates about the likely impact of commissioning on the third sector and its relationship with the state. In doing so, the paper advances two main arguments: that commissioning remains highly fragmented in policy and practice, between different localities and scales of government; and that there is a tension within commissioning policy between the ‘rhetoric’ of the ‘full cycle’ approach based on needs assessment and planning, and what appears to be an emerging reality of resource-constrained, large-scale and Payment by Results-based contracting. These raise real concerns for organizational and service quality outcomes.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 The Author
ISSN: 0952-0767
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Third Sector Research CentreNot SetESRC
Keywords: Commissioning; procurement; public management; public sector reform; service delivery; third sector
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 45598
Depositing User: James Rees
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2016 13:39
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 19:55
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