Get ready for public sector outsourcing
August 24, 2009
The winds of change have begun to blow. Two highly successful industry leaders, or shall we say thought leaders, have been asked to put aside their private portfolios and assigned cabinet rank in the Congress-led union government, to steer two ambitious government projects.
While Nandan Nilekani, former co-chairman of Infosys has been given charge of the Unique Identification Database Authority of India, reports are that telecom authority Sam Pitroda might be asked to lead and vet all e-initiatives of the government (e-governance, e-learning and e-health) under the yet-to-be-constituted National Information Highway Authority (NIHA).
This undoubtedly sets a new precedent and spells glad tidings for the Indian citizenry. The move also coincides well with similar reforms underway in other parts of the globe. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that funds the British Council recently announced plans to outsource more of its civil service activities to its offshore centers in India. These would be no ordinary jobs, but specialized activities for which the Indian workers will first be brought over to shadow staff at Bridgewater House on Whitworth Street in Manchester, reports a local blog. Although this move has fueled a lot of furor in the local community, Mark Kobayashi-Hillary on Takingoutsourcing maintains that the trend is not new, especially for the British Council that already has a strong head count in the Commonwealth countries. Indeed what is happening here is that one segment of the workers (in a more developed economy) are moving up the value- chain, while another coming in to take their place. A natural labor churn that has been going on for centuries; even within countries, from rural to urban economies.
Those who are resisting the move by raising the bogey of data security breaches, conveniently forget that serious breaches in the past have occurred in the home country (Remember the loss of 25 million child benefit recipients’ record by the staff of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) department in 2007) and that this threat can easily be plugged by putting in place strict SLAs that replicate homeland protocol making public data as secure and safe in Bangalore as it would be in Birmingham,” concedes one blogger.
Fact is that the same factors guide public sector outsourcing as they do private sector outsourcing, a need to cut costs, while ensuring undisrupted service. The moment, a better model than outsourcing comes up, this too would get jettisoned in favor of the new model. Let there be no doubt of that.