Rupert Soames, head of Serco, has called for increased transparency in public sector outsourcing in a move that has the full backing of Intelligent Sourcing magazine. It will come as no surprise to readers that his move is a result of the collapse of Carillion, in which the accountability and management of the various contracts being carried out while the company was already in trouble has been quite an issue.
The call for increased transparency is not unique but it’s worth a mention – reported here in the Telegraph – because this time it’s the outsourcing community calling for an overhaul with the same vehemence expressed by their public sector clients.
Soames is pretty clear that there were faults on both sides in the Carillion collapse. The directors didn’t appear to see the need to communicate that there were difficulties (it’s entirely probable that they believed they could see a way out, and it makes no business sense to alert clients to a disaster you think you’re about to avoid) and the public sector clients saw no need to ask awkward questions.
The point is that neither position is right or justifiable to stakeholders. The underlying trend, we believe, is that the outsourcing industry is maturing and some of it hurts. The notion, at various points espoused by both major political parties in the UK. that outsourcing is by definition better than insourcing has been proven flawed; whoever is the provider and wherever the source, there is every imperative to ensure efficient oversight by competent personnel.