PhD defense: Choosing between instruments for the externalisation of social care services

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Academiegebouw, Domplein (Utrecht)

Since the decentralisation of the social care services in the Netherlands in 2015, municipalities have been placed at the forefront to ensure that services such as youth care and social support are provided to their citizens and are of the legally prescribed quality. In doing so, they are faced with choices about how best to organise the implementation of these services. Various instruments are available to them: public contracts, subsidies, authorisation schemes, concession contracts and the open-house model. But how should these instruments be distinguished from each other? Is there an obligation for public procurement, or can municipalities choose another instrument? And why do EU rules apply to the organisation of social services in the Netherlands? There exists a lack of clarity about these questions, both in practice and in the literature. In her research, Gerrieke Bouwman maps the dividing lines between the public contract and the other instruments, and how a certain instrument can be chosen in a concrete case. 

This research looks at the municipal organisation of services in the social care sector within the context of the European social market economy, and more concretely, it examines which instruments are available to governments to organise these tasks. It concerns the instruments: the public contract (tender), subsidy, authorisation scheme, concession and the open-house model. This research maps out how the dividing lines between the public contract and the other instruments run and how a particular instrument can be chosen in a concrete case. Attention is also paid to the legal status of the open-house model, the SAS procedure in the Dutch Procurement Act, and the legitimacy of the various non-regulated procurement procedures in use in the social care sector in the Netherlands.  

Since the decentralisation of the social care services, this has been a hot topic among municipalities, ministries and lawyers active in the field. How the tendering of these services sometimes turns out has received a lot of negative attention in the media. In practice, there is much demand for clarity on this issue.

Gerrieke Bouwman about her research topic

In addition to an extensive analysis of the different instruments and their legal framework, and the dividing lines that result from this, a number of important advantages and disadvantages of the instruments – with respect to a good organisation of social services – have also been clarified. For instance, one instrument can be used to challenge care providers to better quality or to innovate, while other instruments give clients a lot of freedom of choice. The extent to which the various instruments can prevent care fraud is also taken into account. In this way, the study helps governments to make a well-considered choice for one of the instruments that suits their policy goals.

This highly topical study, which addresses a number of pressing issues surrounding the organisation of the social care services by municipalities, is relevant not only to the social care sector. Thanks to the thorough analysis of the dividing lines between instruments and the decision diagrams developed, it is also highly relevant to other fields in which governments have tasks carried out by third parties.

This research is in line with in-depth procurement/administrative research carried out within the interdisciplinary research centre UUCePP at Utrecht University into the organisation of services in the social care sector.

Start date and time
End date and time
Location
University Hall
PhD candidate
mr. G. Bouwman
Dissertation
Instruments for the externalisation of social care services. Distinguishing public contracts from subsidies, authorisation schemes, concession contracts and the open-house model
PhD supervisor(s)
prof. mr. E. R. Manunza
prof. mr. R.J.G.M. Widdershoven