Contracting Out Government Services / Edition 1

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Privatization of government services in the United States has accelerated in the last two decades, especially at the state and local levels. This work focuses on contracting out—the most widely used method of privatization. Contributors from academia, consulting firms, government agencies, and private providers discuss the why and how of contracting out and examine the results of contracted services, including quality and cost measures of performance. Some chapters apply economic theory to contracting out. Others examine recent case studies of contracting out initiatives.

The book begins with a thoughtful essay on the theory of privatization and examines the recent record of use in state and local governments. Section 1 takes an overview look at contracting out. Section 2 examines contracting in the criminal justice area as well as examples of contracting in such diverse areas as trash collection and the operation of golf courses. The final section looks in depth at the mechanics, obstacles, and effects of contracting. The book points out the pluses and minuses of contracting out and points to the lessons that can be learned from the recent history of this privatization technique.

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Editorial Reviews

Focusing primarily on the state and local levels, 17 essays by economists, political scientists, and business planners explore one aspect of government privatization in the United States. The theory, application, and problems of contracting services are explored. A significant portion of the essays look at contracting out criminal justice services. The essays, as a whole, find that a primary motivation for contracting is cost reduction and that while often that goal is achieved, accountability and service quality remain problem areas. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

PAUL SEIDENSTAT is Associate Professor of Economics at Temple University.

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Table of Contents

Figures and Tables
I Overview 1
1 Theory and Practice of Contracting Out in the United States 3
2 Municipal Contracting in the 1980s: Tinkering or Reinventing Government 26
3 Public and Private: Learning, Linking, and Legitimating 39
4 Developing a Privatization Strategy Using Competitive Bidding, Cooperative Partnerships, and Networks 53
5 Contracting to Affiliated Companies under Concessions: The Economic Approach 85
II The Practice of Contracting out 91
6 Role of Public/Private Juvenile Programs 93
7 Electronic Monitoring in Los Angeles County: A Case of Public-Private Partnership in Community Corrections 108
8 Policy Considerations in the Privatization of Local Detention Facilities 122
9 Privatization Lessons' from Hospital and Prison Experiences 134
10 Privatization as a Viable Alternative for Local Governments: The Case Study of a Failed Michigan Town 151
11 The Cost and Production of Solid Waste Disposal Service 166
12 Playing Golf on Plush Private-Sector Greens 178
III Obstacles and Side Effects of Contracting Out 185
13 Implementing Privatization in the Public Sector 187
14 Legal Barriers to Local Privatization 194
15 How Contracting Out City Services Impacts Public Employees 211
16 Competition Between Public Agencies and Private Vendors: Vehicle Maintenance Services in Greeley 219
17 The Mechanics of Contracting Out 233
Index 249
About the Editor and Contributors 253
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