History of Contracting
Gary Sturgess, former Institute executive director, wrote a series of regular articles for the Journal of International Peace Operations exploring the history of public service contracting. These articles, which were often based on the author's own primary research, present a valuable insight into the long-standing history of government contracting as well as providing important indications for the development of the industry in the 21st century.
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The East India Company - a model of corporate governance
The East India Company provides a fascinating insight into the evolution of a trading corporation into a professional public administration that was able to overcome many of the conflicts between public duty and private interest. From 1772 until 1858 the East India Company was a government in all but name, ruling over most of modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. No-one would disagree today that the Company should have stuck to trading. However we can still ask whether a private enterprise did a reasonable job of building and managing a nation state.
The Profit Motive
A history of suspicion towards the profit motive in public services can be traced from the New Testament via Shakespeare, Kipling and Johnson. But there are also plenty of examples of public service companies that have overcome this wariness to win public and government trust.
Managing Risk, Delivering Public Services
Over the past two or three centuries, the insurance industry has played a vital role in the development of key public services, among them fire-fighting, criminal investigation and social insurance. Indeed, it is difficult to think of an industry that has contributed more to innovation in public services. What accounts for this proximity between the insurance industry and the inherently governmental? Government is a risk pool, and the comparison and contrast with private insurers is instructive.
Following Suit: A Tradition of Private Companies Leading the Way in Accountability
Whilst governments have traditionally enjoyed immunity from prosecution in civil cases, public service contractors have long been held to account. In bringing together notable stories from the past, this article also shows how private companies delivering public services adjusted their accounting and governance procedures to set the standards of modern transparency and accountability.
Tales of Wells Fargo: Public-Private Competition on the Mail Routes Out West
Wells Fargo began as postal delivery firm in the 19th century and played a key role in the building of the American nation. The article explains how a private company was able to occupy a place in the heart of the public domain, excelling in a sectore where even classical liberals had historically supported government monopoly. Ultimate improvements in the public post office can be attributed directly to Wells Fargo: competition succeeded where policy had failed.
Images of Contracting:Rediscovering Contracting History
This article takes the reader on a whistlestop tour of the iconic landmarks and artworks of 19th century London that record the contribution of private enterprise in delviering public services. Famous paintings by Turner and Constable evoke the diverse management of emergency fire services and toll bridges in the emerging metropolis whilst statues of Clive of India and Lord Roberts of Kandahar around Whitehall commemorate the achievements of the East India Company in empire buidling.
Shakespeare on Military Contracting: Lessons from History About Private Contracting
Sir John Falstaff, the popular tragi-comic character from Henry IV, V and The Merry Wives of Windsor , was loosely based on the real figure of John Falstof, a Knight of the Garter and successful military contractor, who spent much of his life fighting for the English crown in France during the Hundred Years War. This article explores how the "rotund fool" of literary legend squares with the historical facts of 15th century military enterprise.
The Color of Government
From the 1817 opening of London Bridge to Rev. Awdry's legendary Thomas the Tank Engine stories, colour has played an instructive and distinctive role in the history of public service provision. This article reviews the significance of colour throughout this history, and its promise of innovation, choice and diversity. It originally appeared in the Journal of International Peace Operations, January-February 2010.
Falck - A Privatization Success Story From Denmark: A Private Company So Institutionalized that it is Barely Even Regarded as Private
Since the early 20th century most of Denmark's ambulance and fire services have been run by a private-for-profit company- Falck. This article looks at the social, historical and political reasons behind this unique development. It originally appeared in the Journal of International Peace Operations, November-December 2009.
Remembering the Fallen, Public or Private - New York City's History of Private Emergency Services
Amongst the losses suffered by emergency services at the scene of 9/11 were a significant number of privately employed ambulance drivers and paramedics. Whilst no-one doubts that they were just as willing to put their lives on the line as publicly employed firefighters and police officers, the existence of private emergency services has been controversial in New York, both in recent times and in the 19th century. This article tracks that debate. It first appeared in the Journal of International Peace Operations, September/October 2009.
Privateering and Letters of Marque: An Historical Analysis of the Commercialization of War
State licensing of private vessels to conduct war against enemy shipping was a practice that lasted for centuries until the American Civil War. The history of such naval contracting raises a number of fascinating historical issues and questions, including: how to manage the conflict of interest between commercial gain and larger military objectives? This article first appeared in the Journal of International Peace Operations, July-August 2009.
The Pioneering Pinkertons: The story of the world's most famous private detectives
The Pinkertons are the most famous of all private detective agencies and a spectacular example of successful public service provision by a private firm. They developed excellent reputational trust in pioneering law enforcement techniques including cross-jurisdictional investigation, innovative recruitment and investigation practice, and new technologies. They represent a vivid example of how non-government bodies can scale up innovative public service operations in a way that government often finds difficult. This article first appeared in the Journal of International Peace Operations, May-June 2009.
Contracting in the Seven Years War: A Review of David Syrett's "Shipping and Military Power in the Seven Year's War"
Corruption and incompetence have traditionally been cited for the failure of government contracting in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, recently historians have sought to revise this caricature by providing detailed evidence that naval contracting for military supplies during this period was on the whole successful in delivering essential goods to the frontline and made a key contribution to British victories in the field. This article first appeared in the Journal of International Peace Operations, January-February 2009.
An Unlikely History of Contracting: Lessons Learned and Practices Developed from the British Convict Ships Sent to Australia
The fleets that transported convicts to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries were managed under contract by the British government. This article compares the contracts for the first and second fleets and the impact on mortality rates. It suggests that financial incentives were particularly significant whilst the capability of the provider and adequate contract monitoring were also important factors influencing outcomes.