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Satisfaction of the Client, Quality and Evaluation: a Critical Analysis

Verónica Viñas

This article begins with a polemic affirmation: in spite of what it is read or is heard in texts and forums concerning to the quality in the public services, it is not necessary to give public services such as the user or potential user demands. And this idea develops connecting with the effort of the current public administrations for introducing the element of “quality” in its management. Along the article the first affirmation is varied, arguing that though it is advisable that the public administration knows the desires of its users and of its potential users, these must not be constituted in the only criterion for the planning of programs and services, but to be one of the criteria, together with political and technical ones. To accept the affirmation of that “the quality of the public services is the satisfaction of the expectations of the external and internal client at the minor possible cost” has, at least, two important problems: (i) that is difficult to find a consensus among the different groups on the services that must have had priority and on the dimensions (or characteristics) more important of them; and (ii) that leads to assume that the programs and public services must be designed only depending on what the population (or part of it) wishes.

Depending on the aims that are defined for the program or service and which are the criteria that are used to define the degree of success or failure of them, the valuation and the conclusions that are obtained in an evaluation can be different. For that reason, to accept that the principal aim of a program or public service is the satisfaction of the client, distorts the capacity and the priority of the public administration of acting with political and technical criteria.

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