Redesigning the Work of Human Services

By John O'Looney | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Strategic Planning in Human Services: Promoting Competition and Local Responsibility for Problem Solving

This chapter explores some of the reasons why the transfer of strategic planning to the public sector has not been as successful as it could be, and why human service system managers, in particular, have been reluctant to embrace strategic planning and responsibility at the local level. An argument is made that if it is properly planned, increasing local responsibility for social problem solving need not result in the negative side effects that such decentralization has been associated with in the past. A set of propositions is offered for redesigning the financing and management of public social service systems so as to support local strategic action. These propositions outline a new design for delivering social services--one that is based on the idea that while national benchmarks for effective service delivery should be established, localities should have a greater degree of strategic autonomy in establishing how service goals should be reached and in securing funding for preventive services. This design includes establishing incentives for service delivery organizations to achieve performance standards and compete for the right to serve particular areas, as well as establishing provisions for linking the developing with the deteriorating sections of a service region.

In Chapter 2, I propose a thought experiment--what would be the implications of thinking about families and children as common pool resources? The thought experiment leads to the exploration of some governance and policy options that might follow from the use of the common pool resource metaphor. It is that collective choice governance of human services at a local or even neighborhood level might represent a viable alternative to either

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