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From a public policy perspective, there is much to be said for using private
accrediting bodies to help government agencies provide, subsidize, or regulate
social service programs. Information about the nature of health, educational,
and other social services is a public good; unless the government develops and
disseminates this information itself or provides sufficient incentives for private
entities to do so, not enough of it will be produced. These services, moreover,
are usually supplied in an intensely politicized environment in which powerful
interests are motivated to distort and even suppress programmatic information.
Hence, policies to enlist private, nonprofit groups1 in producing and distributing
information about the quality of social services may be highly desirable.
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