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The Output Concept And Public Sector Services

Listed author(s):
  • Marc Robinson
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    Units of output are sometimes defined in terms of the achievement of some pre-defined outcome (for example, a specified level of educational achievement), or alternatively in terms of some quality standard interpreted as a ‘conformance to specifications’ activity test. For most public-sector outputs, these definitions of a unit of output are flawed and may have undesirable behavioral consequences. Output measures cannot, in general, do double duty as outcome measures. Outcomes need to be measured separately. Moreover, the activity content of many types of outputs may legitimately vary both over time (as a result of qualitative rationing arising from the budget constraint), and also between clients (as a result of tailoring to varying client needs). Only for a sub-set of services is it appropriate to define a unit of output as complete only when either a specified proximate outcome has been achieved, or alternatively when a pre-defined minimum set of activities has been carried out.

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    Paper provided by School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology in its series School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series with number 155.

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    Date of creation: 20 May 2003
    Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:155
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    1. Hill, T P, 1977. "On Goods and Services," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 23(4), pages 315-338, December.
    2. Marc Robinson, 2002. "Output-Driven Funding and Budgeting Systems in the Public Sector," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 101, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    3. Marc Robinson, 2002. "Best Practice in Performance Budgeting," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 124, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    4. Carol Propper, 2001. "Expenditure on healthcare in the UK: a review of the issues," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(2), pages 151-183, June.
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