Government Business: Commentary on cultural and historical factors that shape public service markets internationally

Gary Sturgess, June 2010

Introduction

 

When it comes to involving the private sector in public service delivery, opinion differs greatly. So is there such a thing as an inherently governmental function?

Yet again the US federal government is grappling with the question of 'what activities are inherently governmental' - which functions are so inherently connected with public interest that they can be trusted only to government employees? Among other contracting reforms initiated by the Obama Administration, the Office of Management and Budget has been asked to clarify ‘when governmental outsourcing for services is and is not appropriate’. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security has ruled that all professional service contracts exceeding $1 million are to undergo additional review to ensure that they do not include functions that are inherently governmental.

To public officials and public service companies in North America, this is familiar ground. Some have traced the ‘core business’ debate back to the Federalist Papers, where the founding fathers argued what functions would be appropriate for the national government to deliver. The fact that this is still being debated two centuries later suggests that we might not be asking the right question. There are few governments anywhere in the world that do not involve external providers in the delivery of some public services, but how they are engaged di ers markedly from one country to another.

Download the full article
When it comes to involving the private sector in public service delivery, opinion differs greatly. So is there such a thing as an inherently governmental function?

Related articles

People Powered Public Services: Monitoring Australian Opinion

In our first quarterly report monitoring sentiment towards public services, we find Australians are overwhelmingly satisfied with their country's public services, but there exist disparities between the sentiments of different age groups and in the satisfaction levels of different regions with the handling of Covid-19.
14th October 2021

Competitive Tension: The Value of contestable public services in a post-pandemic world

In collaboration with Australian think tank the Menzies Research Centre, this case-study based paper argues that adding a ‘competitive edge’ to many areas of the public sector, services from public transport to healthcare can be markedly improved, productivity increased, and employment opportunities expanded.
12th October 2021

People Powered Public Services: Monitoring UK Opinion

In our first quarterly report monitoring sentiment towards public services, we find over twice as many Brits are satisfied with public services than not, but men are consistently happier than women and older generations are the most dissatisfied.
1st October 2021