In states and cities across the country, a new trend is fast taking shape: Fed up with the outsourcing of public jobs at taxpayer expense, concerned citizens and lawmakers push for new laws that would increase accountability and transparency in public-private deals.
In the Public Interest, a comprehensive resource center on privatization and responsible contracting, took the lead in educating the public about the risks and dangers of outsourcing public jobs. Thanks to ITPI’s efforts, lawmakers introduced “insourcing” legislation in 15 states.
Many of these initiatives not only focus on increasing transparency and accountability in public-private dealings but protect taxpayers from bad contracts that lead to wasteful spending. They also help prevent outsourcing fiascos that benefit wealthy corporations while destroying the quality of life of hard-working residents.
Current proposals in California, Kansas, Nebraska and Tennessee, for example, would ban contract language that guarantees corporate profits at taxpayer expense. This kind of language is widespread in private prison contracts that have minimum occupancy requirements and punish taxpayers for beds left empty inside privately run corrections facilities.
In Georgia, Iowa, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington lawmakers are set to consider proposals to force private companies that provide public services to open their books and meetings to the public, just like government does. In Louisiana, a bill would demand that private companies providing public services demonstrate cost savings without sacrificing the quality of the service. And in Maryland, a bill would ban law-breaking companies from winning outsourcing contracts.
The list goes on. In Oregon, the state Legislature will consider a bill to protect taxpayers from bad information technology contracts like the disastrous outsourcing of its health care website to computer technology company Oracle. In Vermont, a bill would make it easier for a contract with a private entity to be canceled if the promised quality of services and cost savings don’t materialize. West Virginia is set to consider capping outsourcing contracts to five years and establish fair pay and reasonable benefits for private sector workers. And in New Jersey, a bill would require state officials to conduct an economic impact study before school services may be outsourced.
“Private contractors should be held to the same high standards of accountability and transparency as the public service workers who serve our communities,” said ITPI Exec. Dir. Donald Cohen.