Headlines: December 8th, 2011

Collaborations with private sector is expected to double, but almost half of leaders do not believe public-private collaboration will succeed. The risks include potential damage to public service delivery and opposition and resentment towards the trend among public sector leaders.

These findings come from a study by management consultancy Hay Group among 200 senior leaders involved in partnerships with private firms, from local government, healthcare, uniformed services and universities.

Currently, just 17 per cent of public sector organisations deliver more than 40 per cent of services through partnerships, but public sector leaders expect this to reach 38 per cent in three years time.

Almost half do not believe that public-private partnerships will deliver value for money, whilst close to two in five lack confidence that public-private sector partnerships will succeed in delivering their objectives. These views are influenced by a legacy of less successful partnerships that leave public sector leaders with low expectations of working with private companies.

Senior public sector leaders identify a series of risks to public services and organisations as a result of more public-private partnerships. Almost half believe that increased public-private collaboration will damage the quality of service delivery.
Two thirds believe the trend will harm employee morale, while almost half fear that key skills, abilities and knowledge will be lost from the public sector.

A majority are worried that public sector reform will cause changes to public service delivery that cannot be reversed. The same proportion fear that control is being lost over public services as more are outsourced to the private sector.

A significant number of senior public sector managers express opposition to collaboration with the private sector. Nearly half refute that private firms can, or will, run public services more efficiently or deliver better quality services than the public sector.

Meanwhile, over half object to assumptions that private firms are more efficient and more effective at delivering public services.