Public sector is a section of the economy that is controlled by the government. The public sector takes the responsibility to provide goods and services that are both universal and those that are critical to be left in the control of the public or the private sector. The provisions of the public sector vary from one country to another. However in most countries, these deliverables include:
- National defense i.e. the military
- Infrastructure i.e. telecommunication, public roads, sewers, public water facilities, electrical grids etcetera…
- Fire fighting
- Public transit
- Health care
- Public education
- Urban planning among others
The provisions of the public sector are meant to benefit the society as whole rather than specific individuals. In some cases, the public sector works with the private and the voluntary sectors to manage the same. For instance: The voluntary sector may provide certain commodities to the public through charitable organization.
The private sector also may take part in the provision of these deliverables i.e. in cases of the management of waste, security, and in the provision of health care amongst other specifications. More often than not, the government also engages in practices such as outsourcing and privatization.
Outsourcing is a practice where the government may hire corporations from the private sector to provide certain commodities to the public. This practice is quite common. For example, governments hire private corporations to do the manufacturing of certain commodities, construct or renovate aircraft, communication facilities and equipment, bridges, roads, military hardware, parks, computers etcetera.
On the other hand, privatization is where service providers move from the public to the private sector. This practice has recently become very popular. However, in rare instances you may find a service provider shifting from the private to the public sector. For instance, today the governments in most countries are providing health care, a service that had been in the responsibility of the private sector in the past.