Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Outsourcing Gov Guam?

I am reading an opinion piece in the Pacific Daily News: Embrace: Outsourcing services is win-win scenario for Guam government

I am at a total loss to understand how PDN arrived at this conclusion that outsourcing will reduce costs. It writes.

Outsourcing provides a win-win scenario for the government. When private companies take over government services, new private-sector jobs are created. This allows GovGuam to reduce personnel costs without adding to the welfare rolls.
Outsourcing can make sense when you move a service, such an information technology department, to a vendor with deep expertise in that area. But it doesn't mean that you are reducing your costs; it's the difference between buying and leasing a car -- you are still making the payments. All that's changed are the ownership terms.

Whatever outsourcing is, it is not a win-win. It doesn't "create" private sector jobs. What it will do here is take well-paid government workers and replace them with workers who may earn lower pay with less benefits. In many cases, the government workers are "re-badged" -- turned into private sector employees; some thrive, some are laid off. The outsourcing firm will be paid its margins. The cost don't disappear and may increase.

An outsourcing firm is also private sector firm is not subject to civil service rules. Think about that one for a minute.

Does Gov Guam really know what is doing? What experience does it have managing outsourcing contracts? Where will get that experience? What are the metrics for measuring costs? How will it define success? What is the projected cost any contract over, let's say, a five year period? And how long should the contract be? What are the terms for getting out of it? What service levels will be set?

How many bidders for contract can Guam reasonably except to get? How will it know it is receiving a competitive deal? (Competitive doesn't mean cheaper).

I really don't mean to be harsh, but instead of acting like a cheerleader on a complex issue, the PDN's editors can best serve it readers -- and the government -- by asking prudent and necessary questions. If these questions aren't asked and answered now, they will be asked by your reporters, especially when the problems surface.

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