Public policy and services

The post-new public management (NPM) era and the development of 'digital era governance'

(Patrick Dunleavy|)

What changes will there be in the next few years to the 'new public management' trend of the past 20 years in the major industrialised countries of the world? The research will analyse the scope of the shift towards the reintegration of governmental functions (including substantial downsizing), needs-based holism (the restructuring of governmental organisations) and digitalisation (the transition to fully digital agencies).

Does IT matter in government?

(Patrick Dunleavy|)

Because large-scale IT investments made by corporations in the past 30 years are in some cases becoming outdated and routinised, and because government and public policy applications are significantly different contexts for IT modernisation and renewal, we need to develop quantitative analyses of countries and public agencies' levels of IT investment and performance on key public management and public policy indices to find what works best. Here relentless pressure on costs alone will not necessarily make government agencies more effective. Some of the materials developed for the 'Agile Government' project with AT Kearney provide useful starting points here.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the theory of modern governmental organisation

(Patrick Dunleavy|)

What happens when traditional public sector bureaucracies become fully digitised? What radical reorganisation of business processes (eg record-keeping, transactions-handling) takes place by, for example, setting up on zero-touch lines or externalising into complex supply chains? Can some significant percentage of government organisations 'become their website'? Will a gulf widen between back-office agencies which can make such a transition and some forms of frontline agencies which cannot?

The focus here might be on developing in-depth and well-theorised whole-agency empirical studies of a range of different agency types (probably selected within the bureau-shaping categories) and then studying the selected agencies in an extended way for a run of years.

Developing political economy models of IT contracting by government agencies

(Patrick Dunleavy|)

This project looks at the way bureau-shaping and budget-maximising models predict how government officials will behave in designing and allocating contracts for IT projects. It analyses the impacts of different preference rankings for in-house development outsourcing, and looks at how officials with different perspectives will 'game' the contract-letting and development process. The effort will be to formalise a reasonably inclusive model and then develop a quantitative database and some case materials that allow us to explore the models' degree of empirical predictiveness.

Standardisation of IT systems and emerging new public service systems

(Patrick Dunleavy|)

In the past government, IT systems in advanced economies have tended to be constructed on a relatively expensive à la carte basis, often reflecting strongly distinctive policy systems and legacy IT structures which are hard to change. Some governments are already looking to economise on components within overall government architectures. The emerging new public services systems in China, India and elsewhere will be orientated towards finding cheaper and more scalable solutions, and do not confront such severe legacy system problems. This theme will look at the opportunities for a more standardised approach to government IT in these important areas and the political and organisational barriers that may still have to be confronted.

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