The Challenges of Co-Management for Public Accountability: Lessons from Flemish Child Care
Numerous scholars (Gormley and Balla, 2004; Brandsen and Pestoff, 2006; Defourny and Pestoff, 2008; Heinrich, 2008; Pestoff and Brandsen, 2010; Macmillan, 2010) have argued that public services are increasingly being delivered by third sector organizations. The new public management (NPM) belief that service provision by nongovernmental actors may be more effi cient, effective and customer-oriented compared to public service provision by governmental actors might have intensifi ed this trend. But even in countries where nonprofi t organizations traditionally have played a major role in delivering public services, the extent, the context and nature of the involvement of nonprofi t organizations in service provision-further named co-management (Brandsen and Pestoff, 2006)—have been changing as a result of societal evolutions and public service reforms (Osborne, 2006; Pestoff and Brandsen, 2009).1 Nowadays, nonprofi t organizations often face a quasi-market environment (Bode, 2006; Kumar and Brandsen, 2008) in which commercial organizations also operate. Next, the nature of the relations between government and third parties seems to have changed due to the increased focus on effi ciency and effectiveness. Kumar (1997) talks about the contracting state, in which the state becomes a purchaser with private providers; Anheier (2005) mentions purchase-of-services contracts; Smith and Grønbjerg (2006) mention the rise of result-oriented and contractual relations between “funder” and “fundee;” Pestoff and Brandsen state that “long term relationships based on trust have been replaced by short-term, contract-based relationships, changing the nature of the government-third sector partnership” (2009, 2).