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Quango or qango is an acronym (variously spelt out as quasi non-governmental organisation, quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation, and quasi-autonomous national government organisation) used notably in the United Kingdom, Ireland and elsewhere to label an organisation to which government has devolved power. In the United Kingdom the official term is "non-departmental public body" or NDPB.



The term 'quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization' was created in 1967 by the Carnegie Foundation's Alan Pifer in an essay on independence and accountability in public-funded bodies incorporated in the private sector. This term was shortened to 'quango' by Anthony Barker, a British participant during a follow-up conference on the subject.[1] It describes an ostensibly non-governmental organisation performing governmental functions, often in receipt of funding or other support from government,[2] while mainstream NGOs mostly get their donations or funds from the public and other organizations that support their cause. Numerous quangos were created from the 1980s onwards. Examples in the United Kingdom include those engaged in the regulation of various commercial and service sectors, such as the Water Services Regulation Authority.

An essential feature of a quango in the original definition was that it should not be a formal part of the state structure. The term was then extended to apply to a range of organisations, such as executive agencies providing (from 1988) health, education and other services. Particularly in the UK, this occurred in a polemical atmosphere in which it was alleged that proliferation of such bodies was undesirable and should be reversed (see below).[3] This spawned the related acronym qualgo, a 'quasi-autonomous local government organisation'.[4]

The less contentious term non-departmental public body (NDPB) is often employed to identify numerous organisations with devolved governmental responsibilities. The UK government's definition in 1997 of a non-departmental public body or quango was:


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