Carillion: have we learned nothing?

Tell you what: there’s something very weird about a company that gets more attention after its demise than when it was a going concern. And yet that seems to be the case when it comes to British outsourcing company Carillion, which is under an awful lot of posthumous scrutiny from the UK government’s Public Accounts Committee (summarised in Public Finance and elsewhere).

The PAC has basically said it could all happen again unless the culture of public sector outsourcing changes.

Now on the one hand, that might seem trite. “If we don’t change things then we’re going to make the same mistakes again” is hardly revolutionary.

The report is most interesting when it comes to specifics and it could apply outside the outsourcing world. For example, the idea that someone commissioning an outsourcing partner might not appreciate there are different levels of quality of service on offer (I’m serious, it’s in the report) is a mad thing.

The suggestion that all future engagements should be based on a business case (presumably instead of someone shouting “outsourcing! Just because!”) is also something we’d have hoped would have been obvious, but apparently it isn’t and needs spelling out.

One day…

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