QOTW – should the UK Government be pushing outsourcing?

The BBC reported last week on a meeting between Francis Maude, UK Cabinet Office Minister, and John Cridland, Director General of the CBI.

Leaked documents suggest ministers have decided the "wholesale outsourcing" of public services to the private sector would be politically "unpalatable".

And where outsourcing might be useful or applicable , "Ministers instead want to use more charities, social enterprises and employee-owned "mutual" organisations".

Is this really a change in emphasis - something denied by a government spokesperson, although it is only a few months since the Prime Minister was talking about how "the state should justify why it should ever operate a monopoly" and seemingly opening the door to outsourcing or privatisation of many services.

Has the Government got cold feet? Or is this just a change of emphasis with a ' don't frighten the horses' focus on charities to make it all seem a little less threatening? Can options such as joint ventures or mutuals actually deliver? Is it even possible to drive those sort of solutions without opening the service in question up to full and open competition ( which would have to include the private sector outsourcers?) Should all public services be at least tested against market solutions? How well has outsourcing worked in the past for Governments?

So what do we think? I'll give you some of my views later in the week, but I'd love to hear what readers feel about this issue. I feel some heated debate coming on .. (I hope...)


Voices (2)

  1. Woodbine:

    To further back up Dan’s sentiment, here’s an example from a private sector business that decided not to outsource core competencies but instead chose to relocate, in order to find the right employees:

    http://hbr.org/2010/07/how-i-did-it-zapposs-ceo-on-going-to-extremes-for-customers/ar/1

  2. Dan:

    I’m just studying for Level 4 CIPS, and one of the things I’ve learned is that you should think very carefully when outsourcing ‘core’ services.

    The problem with government is deciding what is and isn’t a core service – you’ll get a different answer for each voter you question.

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