This crisis time has brought to Spain and to other countries the need to talk about public and private sector. The great recession has turned the public budget with more outcomes and less incomes, so deficit and debt has arrived to an allegedly sane economy. This background has been quickly taken for public sector critics to praise the efficiency of private sector managing services.
So, here we have two main subjects to consider that I think that can be linked: public services and efficiency. Firstly, in one hand we have to be conscious about the definition of what services have to be public. This should be a political decision, but, at least in Europe and I agree with this, there is a wide accord about education, health services and assistance services, or what is the same the welfare state.
But in the other hand, we have to be also conscious that democracies were born in the XVIII century not to offer services, they born just to promote equality, freedom, security, etc. So we have two main guidelines for public actuation, offer public services and offer equality conditions.
These two guidelines need different organization to work. While equality conditions require non removable civil servants as judges, public prosecutors, policemen and a fix structure that assure the impartiality needed, public services requires movable civil servants and flexible structures that can set services to the instant demand.
So, public services have been planned more with effectiveness criteria as with efficiency criteria, and that is a problem when society has evolve into an economic entity that wants to digest all those public services that can not be provided efficiently because of the public administration organization.
Summarizing, we have to be really cautious when we talk about efficiency in the public sector, because the key is not efficiency, the key is organization.