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Key work-strands

The main work-strands for the partners of the MOPSU project are:

The UK Centre for the Measurement of Government Activity (UKCeMGA) fulfils the project management role and is also working on quality adjusting public services in the National Accounts. The Department of Health provides an advisory role.

More information about the partners and their work-strands can be found on their relevant pages. The MOPSU final report will provide information on how the principles could be extended to other public services.

Why is ONS involved?

UKCeMGA was set up to implement the recommendations of the Atkinson Review to improve the measurement of government outputs and productivity in the national accounts. Traditionally, public service output has been measured as the number of people in receipt of the service, and quality or performance has been measured by processes like waiting times, complaints procedures, and staff turnover. However, these measures do not necessarily tell us the ‘value’ of the service.

Services are valued because of the effects people experience in using them, for example the primary objective of adult social care is to meet the needs created by impairment, and if possible to prevent or reduce the development of further needs.

The outcome of services can be thought of as the improvement in well-being that takes place as a result of service provision. Principle B of the Atkinson Review states:

‘the output of the government sector should be measured in a way that is adjusted for quality, taking account of attributable incremental contribution of the service to the outcome.’

The MOPSU project helps to further the Atkinson agenda by exploring the measurement of outcomes of public services. Measuring outcomes also allows us to assess value for money and cost-effectiveness. This is particularly important given pressures on departmental budgets.

Why is there specific work on the third sector?

Over the past two decades an increasing part of public service delivery has been undertaken or supported by private and third sector organisations. The Julius Review estimated that this amounted to around 6 per cent of GDP but the private and third sector contributions could not be calculated separately.

There has been very limited information available about the third sector’s role in public service delivery, hence the third MOPSU work-strand to better estimate the extent of that role. Furthermore, the Julius review recommended that commissioning processes should strive for a standardised level between public, private and third sector bidders.

It is thought, however, that there are still barriers to entry to the public service industry for the third sector and that some of these could be alleviated by commissioners placing more emphasis on the benefits and outcomes that contractors provide.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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