The Public Sector – an HRO Opportunity, One Way or the Other

The public sector is a dual factor in HRO. The first factor is government’s role in legislation and regulations that impact commercial sector client needs. The greater the uncertainty, changes and compliance focuses, the greater the opportunity for HRO providers to emphasize their subject matter expertise and risk mitigation partnership capabilities as added value incentives beyond the traditional cost savings and administration benefits.

The second is that the public sector is a major market for services for those providers with the stamina and fortitude to persevere in the long wave sales cycle public arena, the skin thick enough to survive the public commentary of creating change in organizations with often polarizing interest groups, and the management and technology wizardry to make margins at the same time as operating under more restrictions than with commercial clients.

The January 2010 NelsonHall BPO Index showed that 2009 global public sector BPO awards outpaced the private sector, led by Europe where government BPO spend was a whopping 74 percent of total contract value.

We can see the impact on HRO with some examples of 2009 public sector awards and renewals:

• RPO ended 2009 on an up note with Manpower being awarded a $200 million contract by the Australian Defence Force, as well as public sector RPO awards won by Carlisle Managed Solutions in the U.K. and Kelly Government Solutions in the U.S.

• CSS, General Physics and Raytheon each won major new and renewal military and defense learning contracts

• Health and welfare did very well, with Ceridian being awarded a $477 million contract for additional Military OneSource services and with Hewitt winning a flexible benefits contract by the State of Georgia

• European municipalities awarded contracts and renewals for Pensions, Payroll and HR administration services that included Logica in Sweden, KMD in Denmark, and Capita Hartshead and Mouchel in the U.K.

• Convergys stayed the course and received a two-year renewal by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and a five-year and $185 million extension by the State of Florida

Jamie Liddell points out in his Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON) article on Public Sector Outsourcing After the Recession that economic pressures are continuing to grow on revenue-strapped public sector organizations in the U.S. and Europe, driving increased interest in outsourcing options. Jamie says that, “the U.K. is widely viewed as a ‘world leader’ in public sector outsourcing,” and that outsourcing already accounts for about thirteen percent of government spending. The U.S. has not yet seen a similar surge in outsourcing, but economic pressures will encourage both public sector agencies and HRO providers to address and overcome barriers to increased outsourcing. As we see from the U.S. awards in a down year like 2009, it can be done and we will see more in 2010.

There is no way around it. The public sector will continue to be a major opportunity in 2010, both as a regulatory driver and as a major HRO buyer.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

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