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ItemThe Policymaker's Dilemma: The Risks and Benefits of a 'Black Box' Approach to Commissioning Active Labour Market ProgrammesConsidine, M ; O'Sullivan, S ; Phuc, N (WILEY, 2018-01-01)Abstract In September 2009, the British Government launched a new employment assistance model called Flexible New Deal. It was soon replaced by Work Programme in 2011. Both prioritized what is often called a ‘black box’ approach to public employment assistance, whereby the government purchaser focuses predominantly on outcomes and does not seek to direct agency operations. Using a study of the orientations and strategies of frontline employment services staff in 2008 and 2012, we seek to enhance understanding of the impact of so‐called ‘black box’ commissioning on key aspects of service delivery. Black box advocates propose that it is a hands‐off approach that allows agencies to be innovative and to improve efficiency. These effects are thought to be due to improved local service quality and greater flexibility to tailor services to individual clients. Critics argue that this increased discretion facilitates under‐servicing of some jobseekers and agency profiteering. These practices are commonly referred to as ‘parking’ and ‘creaming’. In this UK study, we provide evidence of both positive and negative activities associated with black box commissioning. We find some small improvements in flexibility at the frontline, but little to no evidence of increased efficiency as measured by the reported rates of jobseekers moving into work. We also observe an increase in practices associated with creaming and parking. We conclude that improving efficiency and maximizing innovation are not guaranteed by black box commissioning, and that the aim of facilitating increased frontline flexibility, while also minimizing risk, persists as a major policy design tension.
ItemFrom Entitlement to Experiment: The new governance of welfare to work - Australian Report back to Industry PartnersLewis, J ; Considine, M ; O'Sullivan, S ; Nguyen, P ; Mcgann, M (University of Melbourne, 2016-10-01)