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Perhaps Professor Mazzucato could examine her own logic

Summary:
This is amusing or puzzling according to taste. Professor Mazzucato is telling us that government spends much too much upon consulting. That process of buying in outside expertise to address a particular and precise problem which cannot be dealt with in house. Her argument against this - do note this is the argument against this practice - includes the following: Meanwhile civil servants are assumed to be stuck in old ways and lacking relevant competences. Frequently, teams find they do not have enough internal capacity to deliver what ministers want, and feel they have no option but to outsource.Evidence that the civil service does not have the requisite specialised knowledge and therefore outsources is used to show that outsourcing of specialist knowledge should not happen. We do think

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This is amusing or puzzling according to taste. Professor Mazzucato is telling us that government spends much too much upon consulting. That process of buying in outside expertise to address a particular and precise problem which cannot be dealt with in house. Her argument against this - do note this is the argument against this practice - includes the following:

Meanwhile civil servants are assumed to be stuck in old ways and lacking relevant competences. Frequently, teams find they do not have enough internal capacity to deliver what ministers want, and feel they have no option but to outsource.

Evidence that the civil service does not have the requisite specialised knowledge and therefore outsources is used to show that outsourcing of specialist knowledge should not happen. We do think that’s a piece of logic that would benefit from some examination, possibly even correction.

We were, given our own involvement in the overall process, amused at this:

….with companies even contracted to help deliver the privatisation of state-owned enterprises.

Well, yes. Most people do hire a merchant (“investment” these days perhaps) bank and a stock broker when selling a company onto a stock exchange. It’s one of those things, like hiring a baker to make your bread.

What really amuses though is that the complaint itself misses the entire point of our having government in the first place. It is true that there are certain things which must be done and which only government can do. Excellent, so we the people contract out those things to the specialists. That this base logic also applies to those specialists in governance should not be all that much of a surprise. There are skills, knowledge, they do not have but others do - go get it from them then.

To return to our baker. Professor Mazzucato has entirely forgotten Paul Seabright’s point about the supply of bread to London. No one is ins charge of it because it has been contracted out to the market. It is remarkable that it works but it does. It is not, in fact, necessary to have - even, it is undesirable to have - niente al di fuori dello Stato. But then convincing corporatists of that has always been a difficult task.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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