UK public service is about to enter a revolution - so says British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Writing in The Telegraph this week
he outlined the scope of a bill which, if enacted, will see a menagerie of central and local government functions fulfilled by private sector providers. “[The bill] will put in place principles that will signal the decisive end of the old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you're-given model of public services,” Cameron said. “The grip of state control will be released and power will be placed in people's hands.”
While agnostic on whether the public or private sector provides government services, I think it’s interesting to consider what happens when you commission or outsource to another firm.
The provider may be an expert in the field and more able to improve efficiency than your internal team, but at the end of the day, the relationship with them will still need to be managed.
In my days writing about IT outsourcing, retaining in-house skills was a perennial problem; failure to do so could be an early sign of disaster. Veterans of the field would argue that a shiny private sector outsourcing firm would scoop up the best talent from the public sector team and leave the dregs in house.
The in-house relationship manager is a critical job. This person must understand the demand from their own organisation, and be able to push the right buttons to get the supplier to perform for them as best they can. It is a highly skilled role that requires superb communication and in-depth technical knowledge.
If the government has a plan to help it hang on to the best talent during the proposed mass exodus of public sector workers, then I will be assured on this point.