What is the future of contract politics? The pace of public action implies an explicit negotiation of objectives, of engagement on concerted efforts and financial cooperation on a precise schedule. It’s less about legal obligations than it is about political commitments.
This book offers a summarization of these issues as it emphasizes the scope of their recent developments. Public contract politics were first the concern of city policy, city planning, local economic development and cultural politics. They later intervened largely in sectors as divergent as public health and university politics, education and social policy, as well as in regulatory domains as justice and the police are concerned.
Should we consider these contracts temporary institutional quick-fixes ? Or do we need to envision a prospective manner of reconciling performance concerns with a spirit of negotiation ? Adaptability, new cooperation between public and private players, capacity to build partnerships between levels of government constitute their principal assets. But opacity in decision making, irresponsibility, and the costs of deliberation and administration are the arguable recompense.
Jean-Pierre Gaudin, Director of Research at CNRS and Professor of the Universities at the IEP of Aix-en-Provence is a specialist in public policy.