Managing Public Utilities: Lessons from Florida
This paper considers the institutional and regulatory framework of local infrastructure services in Florida and examines how decision-makers perceive the governance structures of publicly-owned utilities in this state. It should be of interest to a broad audience, particularly to European practitioners that are unfamiliar with the rules and practices that frame municipal utilities in the U.S. Many countries pursued reforms that were mainly rooted in the New Public Management ideas where setting targets, measuring performance and applying rewards or sanctions are standard procedures. However, as our paper suggests, it seems that there are other ways of protecting the public interest and promoting efficiency and accountability. After reviewing the theory, the study describes the current system in terms of rate setting, investments, consumer protection and quality of service. A state-wide survey was developed to identify potential sources of tension between managers and politicians. The responses were supplemented by interviews with managers, enabling the authors to identify good practices of local governance, including the de-politicization of the decision-making and the managerial attention to sustainable approaches to funding infrastructure.
Berg, Sanford V.; da Cruz, Nuno Ferreira; Marques, Rui Cunha
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