interesting time for SERCO to re-activate the 'SERCO Institute', depending on your point of view, either a think-tank or a PR outfit for the outsourcing business, and rather grandly named for a 4th floor office in London. We've seen big failures by the private sector in railways, prisons, probation, healthcare, polls show the public strongly favour Labour's plans to end outsourcing, while SERCO itself is still under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for massively overcharging Government for work it admits it did not do. In the past it was too glibly simply asserted that the private sector run services better than the public sector, or can do the job as well for less money. Nowadays, that simply does not convince. And now neither sector does a good job for public authorities seeking quality on the cheap. I hope the 'Institute' can persuade us otherwise, since I am no fan of monopolies, and the public sector is failing badly also (including its role as customer), but it will be an uphill task.
A start would be to found analysis in hard facts, not mere PR. One would like to see it argued in what areas or type of work the private sector have the edge, and why; equally, in what areas or types of work it does not have the edge; what kinds of partnership between public sector customer and private contractor work best; and above all, how outsourcers can do a decent job when (with a disastrous Brexit in the offing) there is simply not nearly enough money to meet the public's expectations in traditional ways. Can outsourcers indeed help change the way the public thinks, and works, in response to cuts likely to prove far more severe than anything yet experienced?
I was formerly Finance Director of the Prison Service and then Director of the National Offender Management Service responsible for competition. I also worked in the NHS and an IT company. I later worked for two outsourcing companies.
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