Edited by Edoardo Ongaro, Andrew Massey, Marc Holzer and Ellen Wayenberg
Chapter 16: Performance Assessment at the ‘Edge of Influence’: A Case Study in Central Government Holding Local Authorities to Account for a ‘Thriving Third Sector’ in the UK
16. Performance assessment at the ‘edge of influence’: a case study in central government holding local authorities to account for a ‘thriving third sector’ in the UK Tony Bovaird, Lys Coleman, Dawn Hands, Les Hems and Douglas Johnson1 INTRODUCTION This chapter sets out the context for the development of a new performance indicator in the UK, which attempts to capture the influence which local authorities (LAs) have on the development of the third sector in their areas. It then outlines the process by which this indicator was developed, the decisions made by government in the light of the choices open to them and the potential implications of this indicator for both local authorities and third sector organizations (TSOs). Given the brave assumptions needed in terms of the extent of influence which can be exerted by the various actors in the cause-and-effect chain between central government and TSOs in local areas, choosing to support the third sector by the very indirect means of establishing and monitoring a national indicator for the level of support which local authorities and their partners provide to the third sector is clearly a risky approach. The chapter therefore considers a range of alternative mechanisms which might be used to encourage the public sector to play a more positive role in promoting the health of the third sector and explores the reasons why this performance-management approach has been chosen in preference to other, apparently less risky, options. The chapter ends by considering the problems of acting so...
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