The UK government has developed a number of shared services over the years where the model is a joint venture between a private sector provider and the government itself. Generally, the government retains a minority stake in the venture, but relies on the private partner for expertise and operational management.
The government stake does allow the taxpayer to share in any future benefits, and gives the public sector side an incentive to try and drive uptake of the service. However, the track record has been mixed in terms of delivery and results so far. The two Cabinet Office back-office BPO ventures (with partners Sopra Steria and Arvato) have not been successful to date according to the NAO, while the record of the NHS Shared Business Services has been mixed; we felt it was doing a pretty good job generally but the operation ran into trouble recently over the medical records “incident”.
So when we heard of a quite new and so far fairly low-profile shared service jv, called Crown Hosting Data Centres, we were curious, and to be honest fully expected it to be another dubious operation. But having asked a few questions and talked to a number of people who know a bit about it, we are somewhat shocked to say that it looks like a real success, at this point in time anyway.
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