Au revoir NPM

A paper published on PublicNet by Michael Duggett, described as a career civil servant with the National School of Government, who from 2001 to 2006 served in Brussels as director general of the IIAS, entitled The Thinning of a Theory, is a useful start in considering New Public Management (NPM), which is at the roots of e-government. In terms of academic accuracy the paper originally appeared in PMPA Review No 41, June 2008

In my opinion Duggett’s paper is a very mild scavenge upon NPM, which is, I suppose, only to be expected from a career civil servant who has been implicated in it for so many years. This is especially clear when he states, for example, that “perhaps e-government has sometimes been oversold.” With the reacceptance in many quarters of Keynsian economics as a result of the current fiasco brought on by the same free-marketeers that brought us NPM, I think that rather than a thinning down, a long, hard review is required, particularly by those who are covered by Duggett’s statement -”practitioners have on the whole been the victims of NPM theory.” So let the victims, who are primarily the citizens, who NPM calls customers, also review the additional costs and burdens to them. Duggett may argue that as a result of NPM the state has taken a small amount less wealth in the period, but I suspect there has been a siphoning off of a large amount of wealth via consultants and others as a barely visible sideline to the state.

I also say ‘au revoir’, since so often these things return reinvented with a new snappy title!

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