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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview
their objectives, as stated in the framework document, using private sector management techniques (e.g., market testing, contracting-out, flexible pay-scales).
Rationalizing central government. Executive agencies have been advocated as a means of subdividing the traditionally monolithic UK Civil Service into more manageable units. Moreover, it is argued that agencies are consequently more amenable to assessment by performance indicators set by sponsoring departments.
Importing management skills. Agency policy, by creating semiautonomous business units within the public sector, provides a method of seconding private sector personnel from industry, and so augmenting commercial management expertise in public service delivery.

Prospects and Developments

On one hand, A. Massey described UK executive agency initiatives as "the most fundamental restructuring of the British Civil Service since the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms of the last century" ( 1993, p. 51). A host of UK government-sponsored assessments of policy have pointed to an increased commitment to improving value for money and quality of service as a consequence of agency policy (see, for example, Efficiency Unit 1991). Perceptions of success are reenforced by the UK government's longer-term objective of a residual "core" civil service and an extensive network of executive agencies concerned with public sector service delivery.

On the other hand, these fundamental reforms to UK public administration remain controversial. Some analysts argue that a limitation of agency policy had been its failure to exploit the full potential of private sector management techniques and competition. K. Hartley, for example, pointed out that efficiency incentives provided for managers in the new agencies are limited, and because agencies remain monopoly suppliers, policy has had little impact on market structure ( 1991, pp. 23-24). E. Mellon ( 1993) noted that, in practice, both private sector recruitment and delegation have been limited in executive agencies. Similarly, other commentators claim that, although policy has improved public sector service delivery, it has had limited impact in generating efficiency improvements and cost awareness in policy formulation at parent government departments (see, for example, Metcalfe and Richards 1987).

A second group of analysts insist that executive agency policy is flawed precisely because it attempts to import private sector management techniques to public service provision. L. Christie ( 1992), for example, argued that instead of improving efficiency, agency policy has been applied to "de-privilege" the career civil service, weaken public sector trade unions, and prepare the ground for privatization. Finally, other commentators have raised and evaluated concerns over the implications of decentralization, and the policy and implementation divide that agencies imply, for traditional models of public accountability (see Dowling 1992).

Executive agency policy, therefore, remains an influential but contentious initiative in current UK public sector management.



Christie, L., 1992. "Viewpoint: Next Steps-A Union Critique." Public Money and Management, vol. 11, no. 4.

Dowling, K., 1992, "Managing the Civil Service". In R. Maidment , and G. Thompson, eds., Managing the United Kingdom: An Introduction to Its Political Economy and Public Policy. London: Sage.

Efficiency Unit, 1988, Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps. London: HMSO.

-----, 1991, Making the Most of Next Steps: The Management of Ministers' Departments and Their Executive Agencies. London: HMSO.

Hartley, K., 1991, The Economics of Defence Policy. London: Brassey's.

Massey, A., 1993, Managing the Public Sector: A Comparative Analysis of the United Kingdom and the United States. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.

Mellon, E., 1993, "Executive Agencies: Leading Change from the Outside-In." Public Money and Management, vol. 13, no. 2.

Metcalfe, L., and S. Richards, 1987, Improving Public Management. London: Sage.

EXECUTIVE AGREEMENT. A means for the United States President to conduct foreign relations and make international arrangements without United States Senate approval of a treaty.

Executive agreements give the President substantial latitude and broad authority in conducting foreign affairs. Executive agreements with other nations are valid international compacts (see Supreme Court cases as early as Altman & Co. v. U.S., 224 U.S. 583 [ 1912]) and do not require Senate approval. These agreements can consider almost all interactions among nations, including economic, social, political, and defense issues-ranging from the routine and noncontroversial to the significant and controversial.

Controversial executive agreements include the LendLease Destroyers-Bases Pact with Great Britain in 1940, the Yalta and Potsdam agreements of 1945, participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947, the Vietnam Peace Agreement of 1973, and the Sinai Agreements of 1975.


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