This paper sets out to assess the impact of two dimensions on the highly
publicised failure of this government 'Next Step' agency. Initially there
is a brief history of the agency, not only since its formation, but also
before its conception, after which the question of 'Why the allocation
of child support should reside within the public sector?' is addressed.
The first dimension considered is the operational/internal issue of control
and management, which is reviewed using the theoretical basis of the New
Public Management principles. The second dimension is one of the agency's
relationships with the home department and associated minister. The discussion
here invokes criticism of the system of accountability in place and proposes
that the ambiguities and practical implications of such a system have
helped to limit the agency's effectiveness.