'I am neutral', claims economist

14 May 2008

The economist tasked with a review of contracting and outsourcing in the public sector says she wants to take politics "off the table".

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, DeAnne Julius asserts the review is a neutral analysis of the extent of privatisation.

Commissioned by business secretary John Hutton, the six-month review is due to end next month with a report expected to be launched in July 2008.

The article says Julius, who was a controversial choice for the project, “resists any imputation that her mind is made up...let alone that it is public=bad and private=good”.

It quotes her as saying: "Public service markets, my suspicion is, see different kinds of providers at different times. A rail franchise can be held by a private company for seven years then revert to the public sector. There is no perfect structure. The future won't see the outsourcing of everything. There will always be some element of market failure; providers will need to be regulated."

But she goes on to say: "Twenty years ago, too many things were being done in the public sector; it ossified."

The former British Airways chief economist adds that the voluntary and private sectors strongly reject the idea of an ethos that is specific to public service work.

It remains to be seen how neutral the report is, and we will be watching closely how the government responds to it and, more importantly, what it intends to do with it.

To read the full interview visit the Guardian website.

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