Serco‘s range of activities, here and abroad, is truly mind-boggling, taking in no end of things that were once done by the state, but are now outsourced to private companies. Amazingly, its contracts with government are subject to what’s known as “commercial confidentiality” and as a private firm it’s not open to Freedom of Information requests, so looking into the details of what it does is fraught with difficulty.
Among their scores of roles across the planet, Serco is responsible for air traffic control in the United Arab Emirates, parking-meter services in Chicago, driving tests in Ontario, and an immigration detention centre on Christmas Island, run on behalf of those well-known friends of overseas visitors the Australian government.
In the US, the company has just been awarded a controversial $1.25bn contract by that country’s Department of Health. All told, its operations suggest some real-life version of the fantastical mega-corporations that have long been invented by fiction writers; a more benign version of the Tyrell Corporation from Blade Runner, say, or one of those creations from James Bond movies whose name always seems to end with the word “industries”.
The strangest thing, though, is the gap between Serco’s size and how little the public knows about it. Not for nothing does so much coverage of its work include the sentence “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”.
Do a little research on Serco. You might be surprised about what you find…..