The Quango

OFCOM, OFA, OFQUAL and OFSTED – just a few of the many ‘quasi autonomous non governmental organisations’ (Quango’s) that are part of the current fabric of civic society. So just what are they and what do they do? Burgeoning in the 1980’s these are spin off groups from departments, looking at defined areas of work of the government department, but separate to it. On the plus side, they provide a means of isolating an issue from the political winds, so they can be very useful where issues have a long timescale, far beyond a parliament. On the downside, those involved are neither elected like politicians, nor overtly non political like civil servants. In some ways, political appointees can be doing ‘civil service’ work. With the 2010 coalition Government and the winds of austerity, many quango’s had their day. However lots remain – some associated with regulation (exams, schools, HE access) and some with market places (OFCOM, OFGEN).