April 25, 2008

Bush plan to contract federal jobs falls short
Texas’ privatizing quagmire – opinion
Budget crunch has Atlanta considering privatization
Dogs of war: Cost-effective: Myth or fact?
FL: State could start privatizing Alligator Alley next week
S. Dakota private schools defy trend
MA: Rockland study favors town-run ambulances

News Summaries
Bush plan to contract federal jobs falls short
It turned on a simple idea: Force federal employees to compete for
their jobs against private contractors and costs will decrease, even if
the work ultimately stays in-house. But as Bush’s presidency winds
down, the program’s critics say it has had disappointing results and
shaken morale among the federal government’s 1.8 million civil
servants. Private contractors have grown increasingly reluctant to
participate in the competitions, which federal employees have won 83
percent of the time. The program fell short of the president’s goals in
scope and in cost savings. Between 2003 and 2006, agencies completed
competitions for fewer than 50,000 jobs, a fraction of what Bush
envisioned. Washington Post
Texas’ privatizing quagmire – opinion
Like that other military gambit, where we blew up a country and thought
a mobile and sleek fighting force could piece it together, Texas’s
privatizing experience has been a debacle. Or, as Thomas Ricks’
best-seller termed the Iraq incursion, a "Fiasco." In Austin, as in
Baghdad, it long has become clear that blowing things up and sending in
waves of contractors doesn’t exactly work. Waco Tribune Herald
Budget crunch has Atlanta considering privatization
Facing a projected $140 million budget shortfall driven in part by
escalating pension costs, the Atlanta City Council may be ready to take
a serious look at putting some services in private hands. Advocates for
privatization cite big savings state and local governments are
achieving by outsourcing services from billing to utilities to some
aspects of public safety. "Privatization will have to be looked at
because of the increasingly high cost of maintaining employees during
and after employment," said Howard Shook, chairman of the council’s
Finance Committee. Atlanta Business Journal
Dogs of war: Cost-effective: Myth or fact?
But whether it’s true that contractors are cost effective is at best an
open question, the answer to which depends, in part, on what you mean
by cost. While outsourcing can be effective, doing things in-house is
often easier and quicker. You avoid the expense and hassle of haggling,
and retain operational reliability and control, which is especially
important to the military. Then there is the fact that outsourcing
works best when there’s genuine competition among suppliers. But while
there may be hundreds of private security contractors in Iraq, not all
of them are created equal. For really big contracts, like the U.S.
State Department’s Worldwide Personal Protective Services Contract,
shared by Blackwater, DynCorp and Triple Canopy, there are not that
many alternatives. That is one reason the State Department was
reluctant to fire Blackwater after last September’s shootings in
Baghdad by Blackwater contractors. UPI
FL: State could start privatizing Alligator Alley next week
If the state moves forward with a proposal to lease Alligator Alley to
a private firm, South Floridians will be able to add private investors
to that list. Construction, engineering and investment firms converged
Thursday for an “industry forum” hosted by the Florida Department of
Transportation to discuss the past, present and future of Alligator
Alley. The 78-mile stretch of Interstate 75, named for a one-time slur
against the highway, is currently a toll road owned by the state. A
possible plan to lease it to private investors would allow for a 50- to
75-year contract, with tolls to be regulated in the agreement, though
FDOT projections call for an increase. In one projection, tolls could
rise to as much as $10 within 10 years. Naples Daily News
S. Dakota private schools defy trend
As South Dakota private schools struggle to keep tuition down and
enrollment up, President Bush on Thursday renewed his call for
religious-school vouchers to turn around poor student performance in
public schools. Argus Leader (Sioux Falls)
MA: Rockland study favors town-run ambulances
A study group has found that it would be too expensive and inefficient
for the town to privatize its ambulance service. Privatization was
proposed last summer, as selectmen hoped it could help save money. A
switch to privatization would also have an effect on the level of
service and Rockland’s mutual aid pacts with neighboring towns,
Henderson said. In the final report, the group also will recommend that
the town increase its billing rates, and conduct yearly reviews of the
program. Enterprise News (Brockton)

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