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The public sector, sometimes referred to as the state sector is a part of the state that deals with either the production, delivery and allocation of goods and services by and for the government or its citizens, whether national, regional or local/municipal.

Examples of public sector activity range from delivering social security, administering urban planning and organizing national defense.

The organization of the public sector (public ownership) can take several forms, including:

  • Direct administration funded through taxation; the delivering organization generally has no specific requirement to meet commercial success criteria, and production decisions are determined by government.
  • Publicly owned corporations (in some contexts, especially manufacturing, "state-owned enterprises"); which differ from direct administration in that they have greater commercial freedoms and are expected to operate according to commercial criteria, and production decisions are not generally taken by government (although goals may be set for them by government).
  • Partial outsourcing (of the scale many businesses do, e.g. for IT services), is considered a public sector model.


A borderline form is
  • Complete outsourcing or contracting out, with a privately owned corporation delivering the entire service on behalf of government. This may be considered a mixture of private sector operations with public ownership of assets, although in some forms the private sector's control and/or risk is so great that the service may no longer be considered part of the public sector. (See the United Kingdommarker's Private Finance Initiative.)


In spite of their name, public companies are not part of the public sector; they are a particular kind of private sector company that can offer their shares for sale to the general public.

Role of the Public Sector

The role and scope of the public sector and state sector are often the biggest distinction regarding the economic positions of socialists, liberals and libertarian political philosophy. In general, socialists favor a large state sector consisting of state projects and enterprises (although some socialists favor a large cooperative sector instead), social democrats tend to favor a medium-sized public sector limited to the provision of universal programs and public services, while liberals favor a small public sector and libertarians and anarchists favoring no public sector, with the state being relegated to protecting property rights, creating and enforcing laws and settling disputes.

See also



References

  • Lloyd G. Nigro, Decision Making in the Public Sector (1984), Marcel Dekker Inc .
  • David G. Carnevale, Organizational Development in the Public Sector (2002), Westview Pr.
  • Jan-Erik Lane, The Public Sector: Concepts, Models and Approaches (1995), Sage Pubns.
  • A Primer on Public-Private Partnerships http://blog-pfm.imf.org/pfmblog/2008/02/a-primer-on-pub.html#more


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