October 7, 2013


How profits, politics and obsession with secrecy helped break the security clearance.  The government also chose to farm the bulk of its vetting work out to contractors, which generally are more nimble than federal agencies in growing or shrinking, and are practiced at luring federal funds by promising to cut costs. It relied in particular on US Investigations Services (USIS), a firm that in 1996 was calved off of an independent agency known as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and quickly got most of the background investigation business before being snapped up by a private equity investment firm in 2003.  Public Integrity

Privatization isn’t always a plus in government investigations – editorial. Privatization of government-performed services has been the cry of anti-government forces for some time. They preach that private enterprise is more efficient and the profit motive encourages efficiency. It does in some instances. But generalities such as these are too broad and exceptions take place. Journal Inquirer

The Interstate of the Future: Privatization or Innovation? It could be said that Robert Poole, the Searle Freedom Trust Transportation fellow and director of transportation policy at the Libertarian Reason Foundation, has never seen a toll road – or, more precisely, a privatized toll road – he didn’t like. Exhibit A: his newly released Interstate 2.0: Modernizing the Interstate Highway System via Toll Finance.  Poole calls his project “Interstate 2.0” to signal that Reason’s agenda is something that cool, leaning-forward folks will want to support. But the bottom line is that Poole’s proposal offers nothing innovative: just another proposition for the kind of relentless privatization that has stricken cities across the country, rolled into a highway-long package.  Truth-Out           

IL: Planning panel votes in favor of Illiana Corridor toll road. A panel of state and local transportation agency officials, advocacy groups and county officials voted by a slim margin today to support the controversial Illiana Corridor…..Critics cited the potential financial risks, including the possibility that if toll revenues fall short, taxpayers might be on the hook for as much as $1.1 billion to pay for the project. Building the Illiana would expose the state to “extensive financial risk” because of the uncertainty over the cost and financing structure, concluded a report by CMAP staff. IDOT proposes the Illiana be built as a public-private partnership.  Chicago Tribune

PA: Secret money funding advocacy at Capitol. Tracking the way political spending works its way into the political discourse in Harrisburg is difficult because some of the most prominent advocacy organizations operating in the capital do not have to disclose where they get their money. That means both the Keystone Research Center and The Commonwealth Foundation get to decide how much information they give the public about who is paying for their research….. The Commonwealth Foundation has been the leading proponent of liquor privatization, one of the key policy priorities announced by Gov. Tom Corbett earlier this year. Meadville Tribune

PA: 2 State Senators Want Corbett to End Lottery Privatization Bid. Two Democratic state senators want Gov. Tom Corbett to pull the plug on his efforts to privatize Pennsylvania’s Lottery and turn his attention to what they say are more pressing issues including transportation funding, Medicaid expansion and education. 90.5 WESA

DC: Meridian Public Charter School shrugs off DC investigation into test tampering. Six months ago, a consulting firm working for the D.C. schools superintendent reported that staffers at the Meridian Public Charter School had tampered with their students’ annual city tests, raising scores significantly above what they would have been. Washington Post

CA: Charter school founders sentenced in misuse of funds. The founders of a San Fernando Valley charter school were sentenced Friday for the misappropriation of more than $200,000 in public funds in a case that could affect charter schools statewide….. For charter critics, however, the result is a long-overdue rebuke of what they say is an anything-goes mentality that sometimes abuses the public trust and drains resources from students.  Los Angeles Times

CA: L..A. events call for opposing corporate-style school reform. Los Angeles was the scene last week of two events that took on corporate-style school reform, which emphasizes competition and accountability and is promulgated by many state governments and the U.S. Department of Education. Los Angeles Times