This chapter begins with a brief account of the key public sector reforms, tracing the genealogy of the New Public Contracting from the early 1980s through to the present day. It explores the relationship between the New Public Contracting and the New Public Management. It suggests that the UK has been particularly influenced by a market/competition model of public management reform, in comparison with a more restricted ‘managerialist contractualist’ conception that has been dominant in other countries. The chapter shows how the separate administrative and economic functions of the New Public Contracting have nevertheless been brought within a coherent overall policy framework governing public services, through guidance in the form of Better Quality Services (BQS) in central government and the statutory regime of best value in local government. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the external constraints on UK policy imposed under international treaty obligations, showing how they relate to fundamental economic rationales for the public contracting policies currently being pursued by New Labour.
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