Are outsourcing terminologies thinly veiled euphemisms for privatisation?

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As public sector plans to outsource to cut capital expenditure increase there are more and more stories about the outsourcing of public services hitting the headlines.

It is interesting to see the different ways outsourcing contracts are being put together and as a result the plethora of names they are given.

Today we have joint ventures, shared services, outsourcing and mutual in the public sector but should this be grouped as privatisation of outsourcing?

Growing up  in the 70s, 80s and 90s made me highly aware of the controversial nature of the word "privatisation." Outsopurcing in the public sector is being described as privatisation in many cases rather than outsourcing.

The term could not be used in the business sector because they are already private and if IT services are carried out by a supplier it is not privatisation. It might have the same impact on the internal workers that are replaced.

Also see:

Has the government just re-invented privatisation and outsourcing?

Is the government services sell off Labour's privatisation?

The reason I write this is because recently I have been writing about some controversial local government outsourcing projects. Strategies at Barnet and Cornwall councils show what an emotive issue outsourcing is in the public sector. Here it is well and truly being described as privatisation.

See these articles:

Cornwall council leader falls on his sword over outsourcing contract

Has Barnet council lost its way on outsourcing and could its leader be axed over issue?


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1 Comment

The use of outsourcing in the public sector is not the same as privatisation. Statutory (if applicable) and strategic responsibility would need to transfer as well, as in the case of the privatisation of the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

Also, Outsourcing, as a delivery model, is not the same as 'Shared Services'. See my article below:

http://design4services.com/practice/shared-services/

Outsourcing has its place. Unfortunately, loose thinking has muddled the different sourcing strategies that exist (and when they are best applied), leading to poor choices and poor implementations, both in the private and public sector.

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This page contains a single entry by Karl Flinders published on October 29, 2012 1:09 PM.

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