Formerly known in full as quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organisations (a term of American origin to describe a newly created form that had become in vogue), quangos are now often referred to as quasigovernmental or non-departmental public bodies. They are financed by the government to perform some public service function but are not under direct governmental control. As such, they operate at arm’s length from government, allowing management flexibility and political independence. From a ministerial point of view, they help to shield contentious and sensitive political issues from the heat of partisan strife. Critics lament the growth of a quangocracy, in which there are too many quangos. They dislike the way in which they place key public functions in the hands of unelected and unaccountable officials who are appointed by ministers.
   Labour planned to curb their growth, but ministers of either party find them useful. Their numbers have been diminished by the development of the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. The term is much less used today, because such bodies are in fact part of the government in terms of funding, appointment and function, so that the acronym does not work as a description. The use of alternative titles represents an attempt to avoid the pejorative associations of the original nomenclature.

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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