Public Sector Outsourcing – Time for the Tide to Ebb

By John Tizard @ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-tizard/public-sector-outsourcing_b_3667497.html

In my opinion, a contemporary public sector leader should think very hard and analytically before assuming outsourcing is the most effective and efficacious way of either improving the quality or reducing the cost of public services.

I fully appreciate that this stance goes against the contemporary grain, given that many political leaders (both within the current Coalition Government andsome in the last Labour Government), as well as some public sector executives, have asserted that the business sector can save the public sector large amounts of money whilst at the same time improving the quality of provision.

Whilst acknowledging that there are clear differences between and within Whitehall departments and between local authorities or NHS trusts, in truth the narrative and justification for involving the business sector in public service delivery has never been consistent. I recall arguments such as the need to: increase capacity; reduce costs; leverage investment; address underperformance; source scarce expertise; transfer risk (although actually, ultimate risk is hardly ever transferable); tackle poor industrial relations (and sometimes to take on the trade unions); and in some specific cases, extending choice to service users. Sometimes it has been for ideological reasons.

The reality, however, is that evidence that outsourcing to the business sector is better (or worse) than retaining services within the public sector is often hard to prove, for it’s practically difficult to compare with an untested alternative. That said, what evidence does exist suggests at best a very mixed picture and nothing like as glowing a success as some marketing presentations or political promotions might suggest. Some early examples of success are not repeatable. Times and condtions have changed.

Read the rest over at Huff Post.

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Opinion: Yes, let’s talk about race and IQ – Lisa Wade – POLITICO.com

Opinion: Yes, let's talk about race and IQ – Lisa Wade – POLITICO.com.

{quote}
Earlier this month, in these pages, researcher Jason Richwine wagged his finger at the progressive media for ignoring supposedly simple facts about the relationship between genetics, race and IQ. Suggesting that a left-leaning media finds these facts offensive, he accused us of scientific illiteracy, immaturity and “emotionalism.” We’re in denial, he says.

Well, I would love to talk about IQ. I’m a sociologist with a particular interest in the body and an interdisciplinary background, so I’ve made understanding the relationship between society and biology part of my research agenda. The truth is that reality is far more complicated, fascinating, and infuriating than most of us ever imagined.
{/quote}

Go click the link and read the rest of Lisa’s article.

Hobson’s choice – voluntary or compulsory removal of a child?

Unsafe Spaces

CA (A Baby), Re [2012] EWHC 2190 (Fam) (30 July 2012)

By an extraordinary coincidence, it was only this week that I mentioned in a blog the case which came to national tabloid prominence four years ago as “the Nottingham baby case”. Extraordinary that I have cause to review it again, so soon, in considering a judgement given on Monday; and coincidence that @suesspiciousmin covered both cases and indeed his blog drew my attention to the case which prompts me to drag it up for the second time. His blog on yesterday’s judgement is here: http://suesspiciousminds.com/2012/07/31/i-need-two-volunteers-you-and-you-how-voluntary-is-voluntary-accommodation/

But, having dug out the Nottingham baby case so recently, I had to find myself reflecting that the issues in this week’s case have been aired before, and indeed to remarkably similar effect.

Hold on a minute, I hear you saying, I have no idea what you are talking about. What is the Nottingham…

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Another worthy candidate for summarisation, or some such.

Bonus – not (directly) adoption related either.

the void

If you take a walk down Oxford Street, or any other busy Central London street, take a look at the pavement and you will notice an unusual shortage of discarded cigarette ends.  This has nothing to do with any conscientious street cleaning by Westminster Council, and is certainly not because West End shoppers are particularly conscious of littering.

The reason is that there is an army of urban scavengers patrolling the streets hunting for cigarette ends so they can squeeze the last little scraps of tobacco into a Rizla.  You need three or four fag butts generally to get anything approaching a reasonable smoke, and even then it’s likely to make your throat sore with it’s harshness.  Lots of people store it up in a tin, or empty tobacco packet.  It’s dry, flaky and smells predictably of ashtrays.  The smoking ban has meant the prime spots are outside pubs.  Bus…

View original post 1,866 more words