Francis Maude will not ban civil service offshoring, does he have a choice?

The Financial Times ran an interesting interview with Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

The interview revolved around the possibility of civil service jobs being offshored and follows the announcement of the finer details of the governments joint venture with Steria, which will provide a shared back office service to multiple government departments.

This will provide services for the government departments and compete for business across the public and private sectors.

It reports how John Torrie, Steria’s CEO, said that offshoring jobs are on the agenda and Francis Maude claiming that a ban on offshoring civil service roles will be bad for UK economy.

This is controversial stuff but are the just being honest?

It is inevitable that jobs will be offshored if you look at another shared service in the public sector run by Steria, the NHS Shared Business Service. As this operation has added new customers it has grown in India rather than in the UK.

NHS SBS is a shared business service that uses an Oracle platform and a single set of processes to run the back offices of NHS trusts. About 100 NHS trusts now use the service.
It has been a success. It promises trusts up to 30% cost savings and even paid the NHS back £1m this year.
Through SBS the NHS has offshored work gradually without the negative headlines that go with it. When the service was first set up, half the workers, some 300, were immediately in Pune India and this was up to 1200 three years ago as new customers were added. I don’t know how much of the work is offshored but there have been lots of new customers added so imagine it is quite high.
The NHS trusts that decide to use the service will obviously have to make redundancies. But over the years there has not been a huge backlash against trusts offshoring work through SBS. Not many people realise thousands of NHS jobs have been offshored.
So could that be the way to offshore in the public sector?
1- Set up a joint venture between private business and government department.
2 – Look for work within that public sector family, such as police forces, NHS trusts or fire services.
3 – Gradually offshore work as new customers are added.

It always seems to me that people get more upset about offshoring when it is done by an offshore company, such as an Indian firm, rather than when it is done by IBM, Accenture, Capgemini, Steria etc.