¿Cuándo son exitosos los servicios públicos?

¿Cómo juzgar la calidad de los servicios públicos? Esa pregunta es mucho más capciosa de lo que parece. En algunos casos, la respuesta se antoja sencilla: que los trenes salgan y lleguen a tiempo. Pero ¿acaso eso es todo lo que esperamos de nuestros trenes?

Ciertamente no. También deben ser seguros, y razonablemente confortables. Deben salir no sólo a tiempo sino a las horas adecuadas y a intervalos satisfactorios. Lo más importante, deben tener precios accesibles. A medida que la lista de condiciones crece, se hace evidente que el componente más fácilmente mensurable, la puntualidad, es sólo una de muchas características deseables, y no necesariamente la más importante.

Este ejemplo es relevante para la política de los servicios públicos, que acapara el debate en muchos países porque es parte central de los grandes problemas tanto de los presupuestos gubernamentales (y cómo reducirlos) como de los impuestos (y cómo recortarlos). Para ir de acuerdo con los tiempos, los gobiernos aplican criterios empresariales para medir la eficiencia (y el "éxito", en términos más generales) de los servicios públicos. Eso significa, sobre todo, que fijan metas de rendimiento.

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