The Guardian reports on Serco, a giant global corporation that hoovers up outsourced government contracts from prisons to rail franchises and now has the NHS firmly in its sights. The company stands accused of mismanagement, lying and even charging for non-existent work.
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”.
Once I started looking, their logos were everywhere, suggesting a shadow state that has since grown ever-bigger. Their names seemed anonymously stylised, in keeping with the sense that they seemed both omnipresent, and barely known: Interserve, Sodexo, Capita, the Compass Group.