It's depressing. We should be used to it by now, and understand that money is everything, people nothing. but we still fondly imagine that people in government will wake up one day and say, "No. This is wrong." Dream on. New disability benefit test contracts have just been awarded - to Atos and Capita. According to the Guardian, the lion's share goes to Atos. The paper is portraying it as a blow to G4S which was in the running, and hinting that the timing suggests that the Olympic security fiasco could have ruled them out. I doubt it. That's not how the procurement process works, as we know. G4S's share price went down, but it's back up now. A fascinating article by historian Michael Wood on the BBC website points out, among other things, that G4S is four times the size of the British Army. The embarrassment of the Olympics is just a minor glitch. Meanwhile A4e, a much smaller player, rides its own recent embarrassments comfortably. It preens on its website that it has been telling the Polish government how it can transform its "public-private co-operation", focussing on payment by results.
The Exaro site previews a report to be published by the University of Greenwich Business School on outsourcing which, it says, will "reignite controversy" and "provoke a furious reaction". Sadly, it won't. The report states the obvious; that there will always be a conflict of interest between "commercial and shareholder interests" and the public objectives. It also has evidence that any saving of money by using private companies is short-lived. The authors of the article go to something called the National Outsourcing Association for a reaction. They say that people only notice outsourcing on those rare occasions when it goes wrong; it saves money and employs a lot of people. And that, I'm afraid, will be the extent of the debate on this issue.
We are not going to change anything in the near future. But that doesn't mean we should stop resisting.