What’s the “Uber” of the Civil Service?

Terence Eden

This intriguing post starts from – and riffs off – the provocative observation (now, amazingly, more than five years old) that

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.

What then is the equivalent core asset of a government department that it might not need any more? Does a policy department need expertise in the policies for which it is responsible, or does it only need to create a market and attract the information and insights it needs from a pool of gig workers? It’s an entertaining idea. But it’s worth noting that there are other things the organisations we started with don’t do – adding to the original, one might say that:

Uber doesn’t care where you want to go. Facebook doesn’t care what you want to share. Alibaba doesn’t care what you want to buy. Airbnb doesn’t care where you want to spend the night.

So before turning a government department into a bundle of StackOverflow questions, perhaps we would need to understand what it was that that department didn’t care about. And whether, once we had taken that thing away, the thing which remained was a government department in any meaningful sense at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.