Problems and Progress
Edited by Colin Robinson
186 Utility regulation in competitive markets CHAIRMAN’S COMMENTS Chris Nash The area I want to concentrate on in my comments is an area that is very important in the White Paper and very important in Chris’s chapter, and that is the reallocation of responsibilities, and in particular the allocation of responsibility for strategy versus delivery. Chris says that experience suggests that responsibility for delivery is not best placed with civil servants. It is clear where large amounts of public money are going into an industry that you would expect ministers, with the advice of civil servants, to be in the lead on strategy, but the whole tendency in 20 years or more has been for delivery to be the responsibility of separate agencies, whether they are public or private. Of course there is a problem about how strategic objectives are conveyed to those agencies. It is not easy. In October 2005, I chaired a session at a conference where a German urban public transport manager spoke on these things, and he said, ‘Well the State is clearly responsible for strategy. I’m responsible for delivery’. I asked him, ‘Well, how does the State tell you its strategic objectives?’. He said, ‘Well, they give me a map showing the routes I’m to run and the frequencies I’m to run on each route’, which was not quite the answer I expected! It does seem to me that the new arrangements go a little bit in that direction. I suppose, as an economist,...
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