Just doodling, looking for sources of data to try to map out the evolution of corporate groups that are taking over the operation of public services (another few possible pieces in the holding companies to account jigsaw…)
Health and Social Care
The CQC publishes a spreadsheet detailing all the locations it inspects which includes a group/brand identifier that allows us to track individual companies that operate as part of a group or under a common brand [CQC data].
Justice and detention
I haven’t found a nice dataset that identifies the operators of prison and detention facilities. The Ministry of Justice publish Prison and probation trusts performance statistics that includes management information detailing the names of prisons and trusts, but not their operators. There is an unstructured list of contracted out prison operators but no data file? I can’t find a list of operators of immigration removal/detention centres? (Serco, GEO and MITIE may all be operators?)
SLAs and general contract details here – MOJ – Prison Service level agreements and contracts – though no mention of private contractor names? Other possible sources: inspection reports from HM Inspectorate of Prisons. Reports are presented as PDF documents, and appear to include a fact page that includes a statement of Escort contractors, Health service providers and Learning and skills providers. I haven’t found a simple datafile that clearly states the providers of these service types by prison?
As far as probation service delivery goes, I’m not sure what sort of private contracts the probation trusts operate – one way in might be to trawl through the spending data (eg Probation trusts spend over £25,000 (note: that page says “We do not publish everything and HMT lists transactions not to be included in their guidance on data inclusions and redactions” although no link is given to that guidance document…).
The Department for Education publishes a spreadsheet detailing Open academies and academy projects in development that includes the name of the sponsoring organisation.
The Homes and Communities Agency publish results from “an annual online survey completed by all English private registered providers of social housing (PRPs)” – Statistical Data Return (SDR) (see particularly the statistical return full data sheet; amongst other things, this document includes a sheet that associates subsidiary companies with their parent housing trusts).
I don’t really know much about PFI (I don’t really know much about anything linked to in this post!) except that PFI contracts often have large numbers of 000s associated with them. Private Finance Initiative Projects summary data is perhaps one quick way into to exploring that whole can of worms further?
So what other areas, and what other data sources, am I missing?
PS writing about a collaboration between OpenOil and OpenCorporates to map the structure of the BP corporate sprawl, Glyn Moody notes the realisation by OpenOil that “[t]he entire play in the way multinationals operate is in the interplay between the group as a co-ordinated whole…”:
…[T]his unified strategy is played out across over a thousand affiliate companies who each exist as a separate legal “person”. The company naturally seeks to maximise advantage across jurisdictions by combining these different legal persons in the most profitable and least liable way for any given business problem. But even if the group does act with one mind, the price of being able to maintain the affiliate structure as separate legal persons is a bare minimum of autonomous reporting by each of them.
It was as if the … group is a superorganism and its affiliates were the constituent organisms included in the whole, like individual ants or coral. None of those companies had any purpose or would even survive without being integrated into the colony. Nevertheless, each of them has a unique footprint and what we were doing was studying the traces of their uniqueness, their “genetic code”, to see if significant information was stored there which could tell us something about the internal functioning of the colony.
As soon as you start working with data in networked model (where you look for links and relationships that can aggregate data from multiple sources) you soon realise that apparently meaningful or coherent gross level patterns or structures can emerge from the simple interactions and behaviours of individual components. (Supervenience is the term used to describe how the properties of the higher level are derived from (or supervene on) the lower level properties or behaviours. However, in the case of a corporate netwrok, we might image that a goal state created at the higher level by actors with a view over the whole system is what is actually driving the behaviour of subservient lower level actors. An ecological view of the corporate network might look to elements of downward causation to try to explain the behaviour of the lower level parts.)
PPS It’s probably 20 years since I last read heavily, and thought a lot about, parts, whole, levels, supervenience and emergence. And I seem to have forgotten most of it:-( I wonder if the box loads of photocopied papers are still “archived” in my office somewhere… Hmmm…