Government Blog
| | | | |

About This Site

This blog is intended to share, cooperate with and learn from IT professionals serving the public sector. It is my intent that this blog may evolve to become a public sector industry forum for the exchange of technology advice, reviews, experiences, recommendations and best practices.

public sector


Search Government Blog

public sector


Government CRM Systems


government business systems



A Plan For The Next Phase of Government Privatization

While not a top campaign issue, the privatization of government services has resurfaced and stands as one of the issues where the presidential candidates show slightly differing opinions. Unfortunately, while each presents an opinion, neither seems to present a clear and coherent strategy. While the scope and volume of outsourcing government services to commercial businesses may vary somewhat, it is clear that no matter who the next President is, government outsourcing will continue - as it should.

My hope is that we can learn from both our own prior experiences as well as the experiences of others in order to provide superior services with transparent accountability at a lower taxpayer cost. I believe the best external source of lessons learned and proven practices comes from the United Kingdom. In 1995 the U.K. outsourced $60 billion of federal and local public services. This year the U.K. outsources $150 billion of services which range from refuse collection to environmental response to healthcare.

Perhaps the strongest indication of success is that both political parties support and promote the privatization programs (as in the U.S., when a program is successful, everybody wants to put their name on it). The U.K.'s initial sponsorship of government outsourcing began with the Conservative Party during the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher era, however, has seen its most dramatic growth under the leadership of the Labour Party.

As successful programs begin with successful planning, it's important to note that the U.K.'s outsourcing program began with a comprehensive study regarding the effectiveness and challenges of public services delivery. Headed by John Hutton, secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, the study was conducted outside the realm of politics and special interests (wow!). The study ultimately determined that when implemented properly, outsourcing and privatization result in long-term cost savings while at the same time contributing significantly to the domestic economy. The study also showed convincing analysis and concrete evidence that the outsourcing of government services achieves quality levels that are at least equal to and often higher quality than that provided by the government. The evidence included, but was not limited to, a 2006 survey in which 95 percent of former public sector managers agreed that customer service had improved with government outsourcing.

To the research report's credit, it did not dodge the difficult issues of maintaining competition, sustaining government workforce levels, retaining services which are inherently government suited and mitigating the consequences that outsourcing may impose on existing government employees.

The British offer America an advance lesson on this topic in several areas. From my perspective, I remain hopeful that the next administration may look not just to our own prior experiences, but also to the UK research, baseline performance levels and lessons learned. I am most hopeful, but also most skeptical, that the next phase of government outsourcing may lead with political and special interest free comprehensive and quantifiable research and planning - the same type of strategic planning regularly employed by the very commercial organizations who may be next providing the outsourced citizen services.

Posted August 15, 2008 in Government Leadership
Technorati:  Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites Save this page to
View CC license
Permalink | Comments (2) | Trackback (0)

Please forward COMMENTS to howard[at]

Trackback for this post is



Your Confidence Is Appreciated
It's refreshing to read a government blog post where the blogger has enough confidence in himself - and other government colleague and coworkers - that an intelligent article can be authored without referring to outsourcing as an inherently evil practice. Keep putting the interests of citizens and taxpayers first and this blog and our country will go far!
Posted by Stephanie Yanberg on August 17, 2008

One of the starting points of any strategic services plan must be clear identification of the customer. My opinion is clear that the customer is the taxpayer, not the government worker or any other worker. Protectionism runs contrary to serving the public good. The public is best served irrespective of who employs the provider.
Posted by Howard on April 17, 2008


gsa | Government IT Blog