Panel appearance: transparency in outsourcing

On Thursday 27th February, Kate Steadman, Director of the Serco Institute, contributed to an important panel on transparency in outsourcing. Hosted and chaired by the Institute for Government, the event considered a range of critical issues around data, freedom of information, KPIs, the role of smaller providers, and the voluntary sector. The panel also included Meg Hillier MP (Chair of the Public Accounts Committee), Karl Wilding (Chief Executive of the NCVO) and Steve Wood (Deputy Commissioner at the ICO).

Kate welcomed the very real efforts being made by Government to improve transparency, and the increased focus on this important area. She emphasised that Serco, as a strategic supplier of public services across several sectors, was hugely keen on transparency, and submits a large amount of data to Government across its range of contracts. In February 2018, Serco published its ‘Transparency Principle’ which underlined that, generally, the presumption should be in favour of open-book accounting. Kate suggested that a key issue was not, therefore, what was being provided to Government, but what was visible to the public, and that there was more to do in this area. Services, after all, should be most accountable to the citizens who pay for and use them.

Kate also spoke about the Freedom of Information Act, the Government’s Outsourcing Playbook (on which the Serco Institute recently co-hosted a high-level seminar), and the need for even stronger relationships between different providers and commissioners.

You can watch a video of the event here.

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