National Privatization Consensus Study

Thank you to everyone who participated in the LWVUS Privatization Consensus Meetings.  We will post a link when the new LWVUS position is published.

What is privatization? Simply, it is changing public services and goods from government to private ownership or control.  

Why would a service/asset or function be changed from public to private? One of the main arguments for the privatization of publicly owned operations is that it can be done more cost effectively and efficiently. The increased efficiency is thought to come from competition and the profit incentive in the private sector that is not present in the public sector. The reason for privatizing can also be an ideological belief that government should be kept as small as possible.

Scope of the Privatization Study: The purpose of this study is to identify those parameters and policy issues to be considered in connection with proposals to transfer federal, state or local government services, assets and/or functions to the private sector. It will review the stated goals and the community impact of such transfers, and identify strategies to ensure transparency, accountability, and preservation of the common good.

It is important to note that the study is not asking us to reach consensus on whether privatization is a good thing or a bad thing, but to educate ourselves so that we understand the details of how and why privatization occurs and the policies that need to be in place to ensure that privatizing a public service is not only more cost effective, but that private entities are held to the same standards as government entities in their responsibility to the public.

We will be holding two Privatization Study Consensus Meetings.  They will both be on Thursday, April 12, 2012, in the NewTV Conference Room, 23 Needham Street. The daytime meeting will be from 11:00am-1:30pm, and the evening meeting will be from 6:30-9:00pm. We encourage you to attend one of the meetings. The first half hour of each meeting will be spent reviewing definitions and background, and to answer any questions members may have.

Privatization of public services is being used in more and more areas and the implications and possible consequences are significant. It is very important that the League have a robust position for advocacy. We hope that you will join us for this important process.

Here are the Privatization Study Questions.

The following LWVUS study articles have basic information about privatization:

Privatization: The Public Policy Debate (especially the executive summary)

Strategies for Best Practice

Strategies for Best Practice – Appendix

For more in-depth information, these additional LWVUS study articles are helpful:

State Level Privatization

The Legal Framework of Transparency and Accountability Within the Context of Privatization

And, for even more…some useful links:

The Meaning of Privatization by Paul Starr

GAO Report – Privatization: Lessons Learned by State and Local Governments

GAO Brochure: Questions When Considering Privatization Options

LWV Seattle Privatization Study

Report: Privatization of Public Services in Shasta County, CA

PBS Video: City for Sale (very interesting story about cities privatizing parking and roads)

LWVUS Privatization Study Information

LWV Montgomery County, VA website (very useful information)

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