The Public Sector is usually comprised of organizations that are owned and operated by the government and exist to provide services for its citizens. Similar to the voluntary sector, organizations in the public sector do not seek to generate a profit.
Funding for public services are usually raised through a variety of methods, including taxes, fees, and through financial transfers from other levels of government (e.g. from a federal to a provincial or state government).
Different governments from around the world may employ their own unique method of funding for public services.
For example, in Canada a Crown corporation is an enterprise owned by the Crown (or Queen) but still has the ability to function like a private enterprise. The BC Lottery Corporation is a provincial Crown corporation and in 2013/14 generated $1.17 billion dollars of net revenue that it was able to directly invest back into BC’s provincial economy.
Sometimes the public sector will partner with an organization in the private sector to create a public-private partnership. These hybrid organizations (named P3s) work together to jointly deliver a service or business venture to a community (see examples).
Through the process of outsourcing, public sector organizations will often engage private enterprises to deliver goods and services to its citizens.
Examples of the Public Sector
Examples of organizations in the public sector include:
- Education (Schools, Libraries)
- Emergency Services
- Fire Service
- Gas and Oil
- Law Enforcement
- Police Services
- Postal Service
- Public Transit
- Social Services
- Waste Management
Levels of Government
Public sector organizations usually exist at three levels:
- Federal or National
- Regional (State or Provincial)
- Local (Municipal or County)
Trends in the Public Sector
In the United States, researchers Keith Hall and Robert Greene state that since the beginning of the Great Recession, the private sector has been shrinking while the public sector has been growing in most states.
In Canada, the public sector is also ‘crowding out’ private job growth.
In the United Kingdom, the opposite seems to be true: the private sector is growing while the public sector is shrinkingprivate sector is growing while the public sector is shrinking.