Any administrative body that is nominally independent and operates at arm's length from government, but which relies on government funding. Examples are the British Council (1935), the Equal Opportunities Commission (1975) in the UK, and the Environmental Protection Agency (1970) in the USA. Due to their distance from government, they are free of day-to-day interference by ministers, enabling them to concentrate on delivering services, providing independent advice, or regulating others.
The term was first used in the 1960s, and in the UK the growth of quangos represented one aspect of the Conservative government's (197997) policy of reducing the size of the central government machine. In the UK, the official term for a quango to which central government has devolved power is a non-departmental public body (NDPB). However, the term quango can also be applied to executive agencies which perform delivery functions for departments of which they are a part, and special health authorities which are neither NDPBs nor executive agencies. Consequently, the number of bodies counted as quangos varies depending on which types are included.
© RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.