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Governments not only regulate business and society but also themselves in the form of regulation of publicly owned and/or funded bodies. Regulation of the public sector involves regulators operating at arms-length from those they regulate using systems of standard setting, monitoring and enforcement. In the past three decades in the UK, regulation has become increasingly important both in terms of absolute resources devoted to the activity and relative to other forms of control (particularly self-control by public sector professionals and control within large integrated bureaucratic structures).

 

These trends have, in part, been fuelled by executive politicians' attempts to control public services and demands from citizens and users for better quality and efficiency. The centrality of regulation among the tools deployed by governments is well established in the social science literature. Regulation of public sector bodies by non-state organisations is an important but neglected aspect of contemporary governance arrangements. Some private regulators derive both authority and power from a legal mandate for their activities.

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