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Outsourcing: Quality dips, good workers lost

I read with interest Mr. Scott Bradshaw’s scathing column in The Citizen expressing his opinion of the outsourcing of city services to private contractors.

It appears that this effort to save taxpayers’ money has gone awry and is an unmitigated failure.

I am not surprised. Outsourcing is nothing new and it has become clear that when it is done, quality goes down and cost goes up. AND, good and faithful employees of the city are lost.

Even the most casual observer can see the difference in the maintenance of the public areas in the city.

It would appear that the free market, at least in this instance, is not more efficient than properly run city public works.

Once the contractors have their contracts they have no compunction about raising their fees and in a squeeze the quality of their work goes out the window.

Over the last few years the Peachtree City Council has systematically dismantled what was once a very good public works system that effectively and efficiently maintained the city public areas.

There is a principle involved here. Private companies exist to make a profit. When push comes to shove their first loyalty is to their owners, not to their customers.

Conversely city employees are responsible to the city and are held accountable for their work. Of course they get paid, but there is no need to make a profit and it is much easier for the city to control cost and quality.

In the ordinary course of business where the public welfare is not involved, private enterprise is appropriate. However, where the public interest is involved and the taxpayer is footing the bill, private enterprise is not necessarily appropriate.

The taxpayers have a right to be well represented by elected officials and the outsourcing of city services is not in their best interests.

I intend to vote against every incumbent City Council member at the first opportunity. If Mr. Bradshaw is right, and I suspect he is, we would be well served by discontinuing outsourcing and return to traditional methods of managing public works.

I would like to thank Mr. Bradshaw for this thoughtful and well-stated column. I have read many of his previous pieces and have a great deal of respect for his views. Is there anyone else in this community that knows more about it’s inner working and hidden mechanisms than he? Thank you, Mr. Scott Bradshaw!

David Browning

Peachtree City, Ga.



mudcat's picture

Right about outsourcing. This is done by weak elected officials with no management experience for the purpose of making their job easier and shielding themselves from messy personnel issues such as hiring, firing and EEOC lawsuits.

Sadly, also right about cleaning house at the next city council election. The mayor is a no-brainer (pun intended) and even though I strongly supported the ladies and even Erica, I see very few good decisions coming out of that bunch.

And you are right about Mr. Bradshaw, he has a unique understanding of how the city works and would be a very good choice to replace our current useless mayor. Convincing him to run will be difficult but one thing that could do it is for quality people like Terry Ernst and Randy Gaddo to step up and declare for the 2 city council seats. Pretty obvious all 3 will be elected together and Mayor Scott would be presiding over a council of adults. Knowing full well his agenda would be saving the money squandered by outsourcing and pursuing an effective and efficient economic development strategy - I would support him and hopefully many others would as well.

Just look at that letter our current mayor wrote about Scott - pitiful!

citizenal's picture

I cannot agree with Mr. Browning. Outsourcing is a very good practice. It allows us to respond quickly to growing or shrinking needs, it limits our liability and it supports the businesses in our area that pay taxes and create jobs. Government, as we have learned so well recently, is not the best source of management skill. Government employees are very difficult to discipline and fire and middle managers in government have no real incentive to do quality work other than their character - and we know that is harder and harder to find.

Take a look at Sandy Springs in Atlanta.

They are well served with very high public approval and efficiently served with the ability to curtail service as needed so they never have to be concerned about a forced deficit.

Sorry, but a healthy future does not lay with increasing government size or employees. It is exactly the opposite. For this the Mayor gets high marks!

There are many reasons to send most of our city council on permanent vacation but this is not one of them! For this the Mayor is to be praised.

Balancing the budget is their first job and raising taxes is the coward's way out rather than learning to really manage.

I can agree with you that we (USA) have a problem with government management. When you have poor management, you get poor production from the employees. Downward spiral.

In my business experience, we have tried outsourcing different items in order to become more competitive than our competition. Some items have succedded, however some have also failed.

Like anyone else, I am up for competition. If someone can do something better and less expensive, than I would agree to consider the change. However, many times, after the initial savings, we find that we are right back where we stared. Fees paid for these services rise, management costs to oversee the subcontractors have to be accounted for, there will be communication gaps and delays, ect...

Less government is better, but we cannot praise anyone until these savings are sustained. Its just too soon for that.

Mr. Bradshaw laid out many items of concern. Can you address some of these items instead of painting a broad picture.

If we have qualified leaders, who hire strong qualified managers who know how to handle people, you usually get postive results. When the management is poor at the top, you usually get poor results

Sorry double post

I did everything but stand on my head in front off the city council to stop this out sourcing. The council and our would be mayor were dead set against keeping the 27 employees. I just could not get the public to get involved... even when it wad brought to light that they were firing all those people to balance a budget, all the while doubling the council and the mayors income. This is a bit like crying over spilt milk. However the pay increase is allowing the mayor to pay back the money he owes the city twice as fast. That is the only upside.

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