Implementation and the 1991 Child Support Act

  • Leanne McCarthy-Cotter


This chapter argues that the problems experienced during implementation and operation are in large part due to failings in legislature, discussing the role of ‘next-steps’ agencies, and how they moved the lines of accountability. It argues that the use of ‘next-steps’ agencies distorted our understanding and appreciation of the failure that took place when the Child Support Agency was in operation. The chapter then provides the conceptual background to this study’s approach to implementation and its relationship to policy formation and policy failure. The chapter is brief, this is because it argues that what have typically been argued to be implementation concerns, such as those raised within the idea of ‘perfect implementation’, should be seen as stemming from problems at other stages in the policy process. The chapter argues that instead of using the idea of ‘perfect implementation’, the criteria of ‘perfect legislation’ should be pursued.


Implementation Perfect implementation Blame avoidance Next-steps agencies Perfect legislation 


  1. Bardach, E. (1977). The Implementation Game: What Happens After a Bill Becomes a Law. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, S. M., & Fudge, C. (Eds.). (1981). Policy and Action: Essays on the Implementation of Public Policy. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  3. Berman, P. (1978). The Study of Macro and Micro Implementation of Social Policy. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.Google Scholar
  4. Deleon, P. (1998). Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 16(2), 315–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Derthick, M. (1972). New Towns In-Town: Why a Federal Programme Failed. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  6. Dorey, P. (2005). Policy Making in Britain: An Introduction. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dunsire, A. (1978a). Implementation in a Bureaucracy. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dunsire, A. (1978b). Control in a Bureaucracy. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dunsire, A. (1995). Administrative Theory in the 1980s: A Viewpoint. Public Administration, 73(1), 17–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Elmore, R. F. (1980). Backward Mapping. Implementation Research and Policy Decisions. Political Science Quarterly, 94, 601–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Elmore, R. F. (1982). Backward Mapping: Implementation Research and Policy Decisions. In W. L. Williams (Ed.), Studying Implementation. Methodological and Administrative Issues. Chatham, NJ: Chatham Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Ferman, B. (1990). Implementation and the Policy Process: Opening up the Black Box. California: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  13. Goggin, M. L, Bomen, A. O’M., Leicester, J. P., & O’Toole, L. J. (1990). Implementation Theory and Practise: Toward a Third Generation. Glen View: Scott Foresman/Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  14. Gunn, L. (1978). Why Is Implementation so Difficult? Management Services in Government, 33(4), 169–176.Google Scholar
  15. Hargrove, E. C. (1975). The Missing-Link: The Study of the Implementation of Social Policy. Washington: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  16. Hargrove, E. C. (1983). The Search for Implmentation Theory. In Zeckhanser, R. J., & Leebaert, D. (Eds.), What Role for Government? Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Harlow, C. (1999). Accountancy, New Public Management and the Problems of the Child Support Agency. Journal of Law and Society, 26(2), 150–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hill, M., & Hupe, P. (2009). Implementing Public Policy (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Hjern, B. (1982). Implementing Research: The Link Gone Missing. Journal of Public Policy, 1(3), 301–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hjern, B., & Hull, C. (1982). Implementing Research as Empirical Constitutionalism. In B. Hjern & C. Hull (Eds.), Implementation Beyond Hierarchy. Amsterdam: Elsevier [Special issue of European Journal of Political Research], pp. 105–115.Google Scholar
  21. Hjern, B., & Porter, D. O. (1981). Implementation Structures: A New Unit of Administrative Analysis. Organization Studies, 2(3), 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hogwood, B. W. (1987). From Crisis to Compliancy? Shaping Public Policy in Britain. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hogwood, B. W., & Gunn, L. A. (1984). Policy Analysis for the Real World. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hood, C. (1976). The Limits of Administration. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  25. Lipsky, M. (1971). Street-Level Bureaucracy and the Analysis of Urban Reform. Urban Affairs Quarterly, 6, 391–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lipsky, M. (1978). Standing the Study of Policy Implementation on Its Head. In W. D. Burnham & M. Weinberg (Eds.), American Politics and Public Policy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  28. Majone, G., & Wildavsky, A. (1978). Implementation as Evolution. In H. Freeman (Ed.), Policy Studies Review Annual 1978. Beverly Hills: Sage (Reprinted in Pressman and Wildavsky, 1984).Google Scholar
  29. Marsh, D., & Rhodes, R. A. W. (Eds.). (1992). Policy Networks in British Government. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mazmanian, D. A., & Sabatier, P. A. (Eds.). (1981). Effective Policy Implementation. Lexington, KY: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  31. O’Toole, L. (1995). Rational Choice and Policy Implementation, American Review of Public Administration, 25(1), 43–57.Google Scholar
  32. O’Toole, L. J. (2001). The Theory-Practise Issue in Policy Implementation Research. Paper presented at the ESRC Seminar Series, Seminar Three, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  33. Parsons, W. (1995). Public Policy: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  34. Pressman, J. L., & Wildavsky, A. (1973). Implementation (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pressman, J. L., & Wildavsky, A. (1984). Implementation (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  36. Ryan, N. (1995). Unravelling Conceptual Developments in Implementation Analysis: A Study of Australian Industry Policy. Public Administration, 74(4), 737–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sabatier, P. A. (1986). Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches to Implementation Research: A Critical Analysis and Suggested Synthesis. The Journal of Public Policy, 6(1), 21–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sabatier, P., & Mazmanian, D. (1979). The Conditions of Effective Implementation: A Guide to Accomplishing Policy Objectives. Policy Analysis, 5, 481–504.Google Scholar
  39. Sabatier, P. A., & Mazmanian, D. (1983). Can Regulation Work? The Implementation of the 1972 California Coastal Initiative. New York and London: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smith, K. B., & Larimer, C. W. (2013). The Public Policy Theory Primer (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  41. Van Meter, D., & Van Horn, C. E. (1975). The Policy Implementation Process: A Conceptual Framework. Administration and Society, 6(4), 445–488.Google Scholar
  42. Weber, M. (1922). Economy and Society. California: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leanne McCarthy-Cotter
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

Personalised recommendations