New public sector management is a concept that was developed in the 1980s and was aimed at transforming the old public sector management model into a more modern and effective one (Flynn 2012, p. 68).This concept has been operational in many industrialized countries where there has a dramatic shift in the way the public sector is managed (Flynn 2012, p. 68). The expenditure of public funds and implementation of government policies has been reinvented with public sector management being separated from the political process (Flynn 2012, p. 68). New public sector management changed employment practices and the means of service delivery in public sector organizations in line with modern market needs. The government used to control and own all productive assets and in the process hindering the growth of the private sector. In the new model, the government can outsource services from the private sector and in the process erasing the government monopoly tag (Flynn 2012, p. 68). This paper will highlight the various aspects of new public sector management and accountability in the public sector.
Public sector organizations have new management and internal organization systems according to the new model of public sector management (Flynn 2012, p. 79). The new model is service oriented as opposed to the authoritative nature of the traditional model (Flynn 2012, p. 79). The needs and preferences of citizens are the first priority in the new management model with the main preoccupation of the public sector being service delivery to citizens (Flynn 2012, p. 79). Citizens are supposed to receive services from the government as a way of getting value for the taxes that they pay to the government (Flynn 2012, p. 79). The new model also advocates for privatization of government corporations to improve service delivery and encourage market contestability. The new model of public sector management is very instrumental in empowering the private sector to continue producing essential goods and services that meet the market demand (Flynn 2012, p. 79).
New public sector management focuses on bringing professionalism in the public sector (Flynn 2012, p. 122). This has been achieved through the use of competitive employment systems. The proponents of the new system of public sector management are of the opinion that accountability in the public sector does not come with diffusion of power but with clear assignment of responsibility. The new system emphasizes on controlling outputs through strict enforcement of measures of performance (Flynn 2012, p. 122). The quality of service delivery and customer satisfaction are some of the fundamental objectives of new public sector management (Flynn 2012, p. 122).
The delegation of authorities in the new system is normally done in line with the management structure (Starling 2010, p.144). The new system encourages competition as a way of reducing costs and improving performance standards. Managers are encouraged to focus more on coming up with efficient and effective procedures rather focusing on results. Prudent use of government resources and high standards of discipline are essential in making public service more efficient and friendly (Starling 2010, p.144). The introduction of modern technologies in managing public sector organization is among the key features of the new system of public administration. Service delivery processes have been simplified and made efficient by the modern information and communication technologies (Starling 2010, p.144). The new system of public sector management is very flexible and allows the use of private sector management tools that have been proven to be successful (Starling 2010, p.144).
Modern public management policies across the world are guided by the new model of public sector management (Starling 2010, p.144). The management of public budget is very sensitive and requires an efficient management system to ensure that citizens get the services that they deserve to receive from the government (Starling 2010, p.144). The new system views citizens as customers rather than beneficiaries of public service. Integrity in the public sector is important in ensuring that public funds are spent in the best way possible for the benefit of citizens (Starling 2010, p.147). Government bureaucracies are a great hindrance to efficient public service delivery (Starling 2010, p.147). The new system of public sector management aims at reducing government bureaucracies to enable citizens to access public services without unnecessary impediments. Institutional issues and inexperience in new public management are some of the limitations of new public sector management (Starling 2010, p.147).
Citizens pay taxes to their government and expect the government to offer them quality public services (Starling 2010, p.147). Accountability in the public sector is very important in ensuring that public funds are spent in the best way possible. The public sector accountability regime should be guided by accountability principles (Starling 2010, p.147). Public sector accountability policies are supposed to be strictly followed by the management in public sector agencies. Public sector accountability policies are created by parliament with the approval of the executive (Starling 2010, p.147). Policies and regulations regarding public sector accountability are left to public sector managers for implementation.
The objectives of public sector accountability should be made clear to all participants in public service delivery with the public servants being given the required authority and resources to realize accountability objectives (Behn 2001, p. 87). In order for people to comply with the required accountability requirements, public servants should have the power to enforce compliance (Behn 2001, p. 87). Accountability reports must be submitted according to reporting requirements. A public sector that does not have an accountability system is bound to be faced with cases of misappropriation of public funds (Behn 2001, p. 87). Sanctions and judgment are some of the tools used by public sector agencies to enhance accountability. Those in authority should have the authority to impose sanctions on participants who fail to adhere to accountability principles (Behn 2001, p. 87). The public accounts review committees have the power to scrutinize all public servants to ensure that there is accountability in all government agencies (Behn 2001, p. 87).
The actions and performance standards of government and its agencies should meet the expectations of the public (Behn 2001, p.87). It is the right of citizens to demand for accountability from their government. A government that encourages accountability gains trust from its citizens because they tend to have a feeling that their government cares for them (Behn 2001, p. 87). It is important for the public to clearly understand the intentions of government to clear any form of suspicion. A government with an efficient accountability system promotes integrity both in the public and the private sector (Behn 2001, p. 87). It is the obligation of government to explain its intentions to the public before and after carrying out a particular task. All government expenditure has to be audited on a regular basis in order to satisfy public interest. Public officials are expected to explain their intentions and performance as part of their obligation (Behn 2001, p. 123). Public sector accountability should be non-partisan by all means. A public accountability system that is not backed by law can not be effective if there are no efficient mechanisms to hold public officials accountable for their actions (Behn 2001, p. 123).
The concept of money can not be avoided when talking about public sector accountability (Behn 2001, p. 123). Citizens pay taxes and therefore expect to receive quality services from the government. Public money should be managed well to satisfy the needs and interest of citizens. Governments have different initiatives that are normally funded by the public money from taxes (Behn 2001, p. 123). Provision of quality healthcare is among the services that citizens expect the government to provide for them. A publicly managed fund can be used to fund healthcare needs of citizens (Behn 2001, p. 123). Healthcare financing by the government ensures that low income citizens are able to access healthcare. The publicly managed fund is used to subsidize the cost of healthcare through a non-profit form of medical insurance scheme (Behn 2001, p. 123).
In conclusion, new public sector management has introduced efficient and accountability in the public service. Citizens pay taxes and it is the responsibility of the government to provide quality service in return (Behn 2001, p.123). In order for the public sector to function effectively, all public officials should be held responsible for their actions. Accountability enhances integrity in public service if all the principles and guidelines regarding integrity are strictly followed (Behn 2001, p.123). Citizens require quality services from the government such as healthcare programs that are funded by the tax payers’ money (Behn 2001, p.123).
B ehn, R 2001, Rethinking democratic accountability, Brookings Institution Press, London.
Flynn, N 2012, Public sector management, SAGE, New York, NY.
Starling, G 2010, Managing the public sector, Cengage Learning, New York, NY.