Posted by Lewis on June 30, 2003
In Reply to: Quango posted by Gary on June 30, 2003
: : I've come upon this word recently in the British press. It seems to be used regarding politics. What is the meaning?
: It's an acronym - Quasi Non-Government Organisation. Used in (at least) the UK and USA and usually used to refer to organisations that are backed by government but not formally part of it. The Housing Association is an example from the UK.
You forgot some of the acronym :
Quasi-Autonomous Non-Government Organisation.
I also think that you misunderstand the meaning too.
Housing Associations are not quangos - there are many of them and most started as not-for-profit or charitable organisations. they do not have authority yet purport to be autonomous in the way that quangos do - their autonomy is real, even though they are supported (usually) by local government. many local authorities shifted their housing stocks to HA and only retained the right to nominate people who qualified for emergency social housing to the HA lists. that is not the nature of a quango - it is simply a supported organisation which carries out a function previously performed by local, not national, government.
a quango is something like a standards council or committee where the government can influence the appointment of members yet say that the work done or the advice given is "independent" - I suppose that the "Strategic Rail Authority" or certain national "Council"s fit the bill. a quango can have money eg for regional projects (e.g. SEEDA - South East England Development Agency) but the hallmark of a quango is that it purports to carry out a governmental function with the appearance of an independence, which it may not in fact have.
The reason why they are villified to some extent is that being selected to head or steer them is usually a financially lucrative reward for the friends and cronies of the political party in power, often unrelated to ability or expertise.