Contracts and markets have been crucial to the process of reinventing the public service in Britain which began a decade ago and is still in full flow. In this process the concept of contract is important as much as the basis of a new rhetoric and as a metaphor as it is as a formal legal mechanism. Relationships between different actors at all levels of government and outside it are being reconceptualised; and the metaphor of contract provides an ideal form which can be readily adapted to a whole range of situations and relationships.
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