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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1998

George A. Larbi

This article examines contracting‐out in practice in public health and water services in Ghana. Drawing on in‐depth interviews and discussions with knowledgeable…

Abstract

This article examines contracting‐out in practice in public health and water services in Ghana. Drawing on in‐depth interviews and discussions with knowledgeable officials, complemented by documentary analysis and secondary sources, the article provides insights into some of the institutional constraints and capacity issues that policy‐makers and implementers need to be aware of in seeking to introduce and implement contracting‐out policies in a developing country context. Though contracting‐out in Ghana’s health and water sectors has so far been used in the provision of support services, attempts to broaden its application to include the direct provision of core services raise a number of capacity questions related to regulatory frameworks, enforcement and monitoring mechanisms, development of management information systems and skills for contract management. The capacity and willingness of the private sector to take on direct provision of public services are also crucial.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 11 no. 2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Article
Publication date: 11 July 2016

Merethe Dotterud Leiren, Andrej Christian Lindholst, Ingjerd Solfjeld and Thomas Barfoed Randrup

The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into the extent of, rationales for and outcomes of contracting out in the local road and park sectors in Norway. For…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into the extent of, rationales for and outcomes of contracting out in the local road and park sectors in Norway. For understanding the use of contracting out in local governments, it highlights the relevance of the capability perspective in organisational literature as an alternative to the standard efficiency perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on four expert interviews and survey data gathered from park and road managers in Norwegian municipalities in 2015.

Findings

The study suggests that Norwegian municipalities primarily contract out park and road maintenance services when they do not have the capability to perform these services themselves. Cost concerns are also highlighted but of less importance. Moreover, lack of competition renders the use of contracting out as a potentially costly and less satisfying arrangement for organising service delivery.

Research limitations/implications

While the scope is limited to one country, Norway, future research may benefit from the theoretical perspectives, which have been used.

Practical implications

Policy guidelines should support a flexible use of various arrangements for service provision.

Originality/value

The dominating view among proponents of marketisation in the public sector suggests that contracting out to private contractors is undertaken to enhance economic efficiency compared to keeping service production in-house. This study suggests that this is not always the case – even in “most likely” sectors such as park and road maintenance.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 29 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Article
Publication date: 11 July 2016

Ylva Norén Bretzer, Bengt Persson and Thomas Barfoed Randrup

– The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent contracting out practices has led to perceived resource cuts in the Swedish park and road sectors.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent contracting out practices has led to perceived resource cuts in the Swedish park and road sectors.

Design/methodology/approach

E-survey sent to managers in park and technical departments in the municipalities. Response rate: 39.7 percent.

Findings

Decreased costs were found in 25 percent of the responding road departments, in 20 percent of park departments. 49 percent of the road departments responded “no change” or “increase” (48 percent parks). Findings indicate that tendering practices tend to be most commonly centered in Swedish municipalities situated in the three metropolitan regions (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö with suburbs), while such practices are not as common in mid-sized and rural municipalities. In addition, contracting out practices correspond with higher per capita budgets, not with smaller.

Research limitations/implications

The research implications are that contracting out tend to occur “where the resources are,” while poorer municipalities either have to contract even if it is more expensive, or, contracting out is combined with other provision models. The limitation of the data are that it based on managers’ perceptions, while hard data have been impossible to map.

Practical implications

The uniform assumption that contracting out saves public resources need to be conditioned with context, and initial resources at hand. Contracting out is one option among several possible strategies, especially for mid-sized and smaller municipalities with small budgets.

Social implications

The rationalities of local government procurements are bounded by the local market situations and local the budget capacities.

Originality/value

This is the first study of manager’s perceptions in the Swedish park and road contexts.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 29 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1996

Diana Grimwood‐Jones

Traces the development of contracting out library and information services in the public sector. Looks at perceived benefits of contracting out, and notes some of the key…

Abstract

Traces the development of contracting out library and information services in the public sector. Looks at perceived benefits of contracting out, and notes some of the key issues and implications for service delivery and staffing. One feature of this is an attempt to follow the progress of the pilot projects nominated by the Department of National Heritage; hence surveys the literature describing these. Concludes that there is still little published guidance for library managers assessing contracting out as an option or actually going through the process, and that what is available relates to local authorities rather than government departments. Ends with a checklist of actions for successful contracting out.

Details

Library Management, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2021

Åge Johnsen

This paper analyses the deregulation of the municipal audit market in Norway, in particular how organization of the service affected audit costs.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper analyses the deregulation of the municipal audit market in Norway, in particular how organization of the service affected audit costs.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses multiple regression analysis of administrative as well as survey data of organizational structure and audit costs from 312 municipalities in Norway in 2012.

Findings

The introduction of contracting out in the municipal audit market in Norway in 2004 contributed to a reduction in audit fees eight years after the deregulation, compared to the situation four years before the deregulation. The type of audit, mixing inter-municipal co-operation and contracting private auditors, was related to lower costs.

Research limitations/implications

The data does not include audit quality and are restricted to one country.

Practical implications

The municipalities that combined inter-municipal co-operation and contracting a private auditor achieved the lowest costs. Hence, neither pure in-house production (“make”) nor outsourcing (“buy”) but mixing several governance forms (hybrid organization) was related to low costs.

Social implications

Contracting out is a core element of new public management (NPM) but has often been a contested tool in public policy. This paper provides empirical evidence on the effects of a reform of a professional service, which is relevant for many services in the public sector.

Originality/value

This paper contributes by filling some of the gaps in the public sector accounting and public management reform literature by studying the organization and costs of the municipal audit, specifically by including transaction costs, addressing plural governance forms in addition to pure in-house production, inter-organizational co-operation and market contracting and by studying long-term effects.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 2 December 2019

Mark Traynor, Can Chen and Miranda Kitterlin

The purpose of this paper is to examine the decision to contract school meal services and the associated nutritional and financial impacts on school districts. Given the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the decision to contract school meal services and the associated nutritional and financial impacts on school districts. Given the increase in the use of competitive contracting of public school meal services and the critical role that school meal services play in public health, this is an important subject to investigate.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was performed using one US school district with privatized food service. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with school food service decision makers. Other data collection included the analysis of public documents such as the school district’s budgets and financial statement reports (the cost per lunch and breakfast meals, the cost for labor, contract, transport, supplies and food expenses) and school food service policies (contract policies). Supplementary data pertaining to district social-demographic profiles and full-time equivalent enrollment figures were also collected from state departments.

Findings

Analysis of interviews revealed that positive financial motivations and impacts were dominant factors related to contracting food services in the district. A significant finding was the relatively short turnaround in the district’s negative financial situation as a result of contracting out the food services. These findings provide valuable insight and support for rural school districts in similar negative financial situations seeking to contract out food services.

Originality/value

Many studies have examined contracting out of technical services, such as transport and waste management, and social services, such as correctional services and health; however, there is a lack of studies documenting the effects of contracting out of school meal services.

Details

International Hospitality Review, vol. 33 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2516-8142

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2004

Nick Sciulli

Although notions of efficiency and effectiveness with regards to government operations are not new, there has been a fundamental shift in the manner in which services are…

Abstract

Although notions of efficiency and effectiveness with regards to government operations are not new, there has been a fundamental shift in the manner in which services are provided. One objective of government is to provide services at least cost, whilst maintaining or improving service quality. This may be the main goal, but questions are now being asked whether the service ought to be provided directly by the government or by the private sector. The shift of services from the public to the private sector is known as outsourcing or competitive tendering and contracting out (CTC). The objective of this study is to investigate if and how accounting information is used by public sector managers in a major cultural institution to decide whether a service ought to be contracted out. The contracting out of security services for the State Library and Museum of Victoria is used as a case study of contracting out. An avoidable‐cost approach was used to determine the level of estimated savings from contracting out and these were verified by external accountants. There were diffeences of opinion among management staff as to the reason for contracting out security services. Some believed it was dollar driven, others believed that qualtiy and image were the underlying reasons. Nevertheless, the accounting system did drive, in part, the decision to investigate the possibility of contracting out security.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1993

Deborah Mongeau

Private provision of public services has always been a factor in local government. In 1736 Benjamin Franklin and a group of civic leaders founded a fire company in…

Abstract

Private provision of public services has always been a factor in local government. In 1736 Benjamin Franklin and a group of civic leaders founded a fire company in Philadelphia because such a service was needed and the city could not provide it. Local municipalities often cannot provide the labor, equipment, and expertise to build roads, to do data processing, or to run hospitals but rather arrange with someone else who has the expertise to perform these tasks. However, during the 1970s rapid inflation, shrinking tax bases, and “no growth” budgets made the public provision of even what is popularly perceived as essential government services seem more like a tight‐rope walk than responsible government.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2004

Ronald W. Blendermann, Rita Ormsby, John Sharp and Edward A. Zimmerman

This article examines whether contracting out of government services in New York City has been tinkering or reinventing government, with a detailed examination of the…

Abstract

This article examines whether contracting out of government services in New York City has been tinkering or reinventing government, with a detailed examination of the layers of approval now required for awarding contracts to safeguard against possible corruption. The use of Compstat, by the New York Police Department, is seen to be a reinvention of how crime is fought in the city.

Details

Journal of Public Procurement, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1535-0118

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1997

H.H. Martin

Presents a discussion of the research survey carried out at the Faculty of Technology Management at the Eindhoven University of Technology concerning contractors…

Abstract

Presents a discussion of the research survey carried out at the Faculty of Technology Management at the Eindhoven University of Technology concerning contractors’ maintenance. First, gives a brief introduction to the emerging contracting out phenomenon in The Netherlands. Then, provides an overview of several contract types that can be offered by contractors and the potential difficulties that have to be solved in establishing such contracts. Complements this with some first‐hand experiences gained in actual situations. Further discusses the importance of taking the initiative by the contractor in developing a contracting out market for maintenance. Finally, makes suggestions with respect to developing in‐depth research in this area.

Details

Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2511

Keywords

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