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Tony Bovaird and Elke Loeffler

This chapter explores recent experience with commissioning of public services, mainly in the UK since the 1980s, where this has become the dominant approach to securing public services. By outcome-based commissioning we mean not simply the externalisation of public services - the letting of contracts for public services to private sector firms, third sector organisations and cross-sector partnerships - but also the overall consideration of all options for public sector interventions which might serve to improve publicly-desired outcomes, including transformation of internal service delivery and moving to ‘co-production’ of public service tasks with communities and service users. The chapter suggests that the role of outcome-based commissioning needs to be understood within a fuller model of public value and highlights four pathways to achieving public value. Finally, the chapter suggests some lessons which can be drawn from these recent experiences.

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Tony Bovaird and Elke Loeffler

In Chapter 12 Bovaird and Loeffler argue that promotion of more intensive user and community co-production not only opens up new potential for a transformation of public services, but can also support the wider principles of public governance. The chapter explores the characteristics of co-production, its theoretical underpinnings and its different forms: co-commissioning, co-design, co-delivery and co-assessment (the four co’s). Bovaird and Loeffler then analyse how the four co’s might contribute to the ‘principles of good governance’. They suggest that the concern of many authors may be overdone about whether the governance of co-production can meet such high standards as the governance of professionally-provided services. The authors state that co-production may actually play a counterbalancing role to the over-dominance of politicians or state bureaucrats in interactive governance. Finally, Bovaird and Loeffler look at the empirical evidence and suggest some conclusions and implications arising from this analysis.