Examines the practical experience of benchmarking in the UK local government sector during the period leading to the introduction of an important policy initiative for local government under “New Labour”. Argues that, under conditions of fiscal control, benchmarking has been subsumed under the wider practice of performance measurement in the sector. A critical factor is the primacy of the role of performance monitoring in local government, which in turn results from the controlling nature (in fiscal and political terms) of UK central government. The corollary is a conflation of two distinct views of benchmarking: benchmarking as a rigorous and challenging scrutiny of local government processes; and benchmarking as an instrument of central government control. Such a state of affairs would appear to offer a number of advantages to those policy makers whose blueprint for the reform of local government encourages the use of benchmarking across the sector.
Ball, A., Bowerman, M. and Hawksworth, S. (2000), "Benchmarking in local government under a central government agenda", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 20-34. https://doi.org/10.1108/14635770010314927
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