Book Chapter

Serving the Public, But Not Public Servants?

Sue Olney

The Palgrave Handbook of the Public Servant | Springer International Publishing | Published : 2020


In 1980, Michael Lipsky argued that frontline government workers held “the keys to a dimension of citizenship” for people interacting involuntarily with public services. Since then, waves of reform have thrust nongovernment actors into that role by proxy. Under political and economic pressure to be lean, accountable, and efficient in providing public services, many governments now rely on external agents, contractors, markets, and artificial intelligence to deliver public policy outcomes. The emerging institutional landscape is a dynamic mix of government and nongovernment actors collecting and interpreting data and delivering services to citizen “clients” within a complex web of governance ..

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