Caring, Controlling, Contracting and Counting: Governments and Non-profits in Community Services

Gabrielle Meagher*, Karen Healy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Performance measurement and contracting out are central elements of new public management systems. At first sight these elements seem necessarily connected for reasons of accountability. However, for some kinds of services, implementation of conventional performance measurement systems may exacerbate tensions in contracting out. Using a case study of child and family welfare services in NSW, this paper shows that differences in the missions and operating modes of public and non-government community service providers are thrown into sharp relief by performance measurement, when observed from the perspective of practitioners in service-providing agencies. Practitioners perceive that their priorities in service provision differ sharply from those of the department funding their activities - and seeking to measure their performance. These findings pose challenges for the 'partnership' model now prevalent in community services provision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-51
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003
Externally publishedYes


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