Outsourcing State and Local Government Services: Decision-Making Strategies and Management Methods

Outsourcing State and Local Government Services: Decision-Making Strategies and Management Methods

Outsourcing State and Local Government Services: Decision-Making Strategies and Management Methods

Outsourcing State and Local Government Services: Decision-Making Strategies and Management Methods

Synopsis

Should we be doing everything ourselves, or might it be better to contract some tasks out to others? Could they do them better and cheaper than we can? More and more state and local governments are asking these questions, and while there are many answers on the Federal level, these answers often don't apply lower down the line. O'Looney's book provides precisely the guidance that state and local managers need to decide to outsource, and then step-by-step advice on how to proceed. O'Looney takes managers through the intricacies of contract outsourcing and administration, while appreciating the importance of government. His book is not an argument for privatization, rather, it is an affirmation of government and the benefits of its many services.

Excerpt

Though related to the concept of privatization, outsourcing of government services involves both a narrower and broader set of conditions: Privatization can mean either a government outsourcing with a private firm or organization to provide a service or a government simply withdrawing from providing a service or "load shedding," thereby allowing private firms or nonprofit groups to do so (e.g., electric utility service or social services) (Savas 1982). Outsourcing, however, does not include a full withdrawal of government-provided services, only the choice of a different means of provision. Also, outsourcing can occur between two governments and therefore not involve any degree of moving the provision of a service to the private sector. While outsourcing and privatization differ in these respects, the impetus and logic for both is similar: to reduce, make more efficient, and reform government services.

Reduce. Even though outsourcing does not involve load elimination, it may involve a partial shedding of what until that time had been a government responsibility (Savas 1982). Outsourcing can potentially provide an opportunity to reduce services by allocating less resources in the contract than were being used to provide the service through government personnel. Sometimes the result can be less service being provided (e.g., limb pick-up once every three months rather than once every two months). Perhaps more frequently, however, the reduction in service is likely to occur because of reduction in quality of the personnel providing the service. Workers in the private sector, in many areas such as sanitation that are frequently outsourced by governments, tend to be paid less and receive fewer benefits than comparable government workers (Pierce andSusskind 1986). The issue of whether reduction . . .

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