Smart Contracting for Local Government Services: Processes and Experience

Smart Contracting for Local Government Services: Processes and Experience

Smart Contracting for Local Government Services: Processes and Experience

Smart Contracting for Local Government Services: Processes and Experience

Synopsis

"Privatization" of local government is making headlines throughout the world. Scottsdale, Arizona, contracts for fire protection; Baltimore, to run nine city schools; and Chicago and Philadelphia for a range of services from janitors to recreational facilities. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia have arguably gone further than the United States. But much of the debate on contracting has been high on politics, philosophy, and emotion with little attention to practical issues of how to do contracting well. The book shifts the debate away from the politics and rhetoric to the practicalities and realities of contracting.

Excerpt

"Privatization" is grabbing the headlines throughout the local government world. Scottsdale, Arizona, contracts for fire protection with a for-profit company, the Rural/Metro Corporation. Baltimore contracted with a Minnesota firm to run nine of the city's schools. There are over 100 "contract cities" in California which have virtually all of their services provided by private firms and other governments. The city of Phoenix regularly gets its employees to compete with the private sector to provide city services. Indianapolis has contracted out its wastewater treatment plant and its airport. Chicago and Philadelphia have contracted for a range of services, from the janitors to the running of major recreational facilities (e.g., Chicago's Soldier Field Stadium). Even New York City, the bastion of the municipal unions, is talking about introducing its own version of managed competition, encouraging city workers to bid for city work in competition with private firms.

Elsewhere in the world things are no different. Indeed, in the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia, the public sector revolution has arguably gone further than in the U.S. In the U.K., for example, the government-owned utilities have been sold, and around one-third of rented public houses have been sold to the tenants. There is also a national system of school-based management and over 1,000 "grant maintained" schools, the equivalent of charter schools except that they are existing rather than new schools. The public bus system has also been deregulated outside London, which means that any firm can provide a bus service wherever it chooses. Finally, a system of mandated public/private competition for local government services has been established, the U.K. version of . . .

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