Why should local government show an interest in service quality? Attempts to answer this question by examining the history of quality improvement in local government and by illustrating the findings of a detailed survey of current practice throughout England and Wales. By focusing on the latter seeks to illustrate how the relationship between cost and quality in the 1990s has been influenced more by external political forces (such as compulsory competitive tendering, the Citizen’s Charter, Investors in People, ISO EN 9000) than by any form of customer needs analysis.
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