Federal, state and local governments own extensive assets and are major employers. Governments often consider selling assets, and outsourcing some functions and services to the private sector, including “core” government services such as providing for the safety, security and general welfare (public well-being) of citizens, the economy, and our country. Privatization of these government assets, services and functions has been occurring for decades at all levels of government. The consequences of “privatizing” a government service or function, in particular, may enhance the function or service. Alternatively, it may reduce or alter functions and services. Government revenues may be reduced or lost and jobs may be cut. In some instances, this may have a detrimental effect on the “common good” or public well-being.

One state, for instance, has declared as a matter of state law and policy that “using private contractors to provide public services formerly provided by state employees does not always promote the public interest. To ensure that citizens…… receive high quality public services at low cost, with due regard for tax payers…… and the needs of public and private workers, the (legislature) finds it necessary to regulate such privatization contracts throughout the state.”

The purpose of this study is to identify policies and parameters that should be considered when any governmental entity is planning to undertake some type of privatization process.

PRIVATIZATION CONSENSUS QUESTIONS

Consensus questions one and two should be presented to the group at the outset of the meeting and then repeated after the other questions have been answered.

1. As a general matter, the extent to which government functions, services and assets have been privatized in the past decade is: 

__ Much too much  __  Too much  __ About right  __ Too little  __ Much too little  __ No consensus

2. Core government services and functions important to well-being of the people should remain with government and not be transferred to the private sector.

___Strongly agree ___ Agree ___ Disagree  ___Strongly disagree  ____No consensus

3. As a matter of good government policy, which of the following criteria should be applied when making decisions to transfer government services, assets and functions to the private sector? 

a. Transparency and Accountability: All government contracts with private companies for services must ensure public access to relevant records and information regarding contracted services, functions and assets and provide for adequate government oversight and control.
___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

b. Public Well-being: Provisions are in place to assure that, in the event any public services are to be privatized, there will be no increased risks to public well-being, especially to vulnerable populations.
___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

c. Cost and Quality: Privatized services should not appreciably increase the costs or decrease the quality of services to the public.
___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

d. Environmental and Natural Resources:  Defined parameters should be in place to assure that environmental and natural resources are not compromised. ___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

e. Contracts and Sales of Public Assets: All government contracts and privatized public assets should be subject to competitive bidding and comply with all laws regarding awarding contracts.
___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

f. Economic Impact: Privatization should not result in a negative economic impact on
the communities in which the services are provided.
___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

g . Government Recovery of Services and Assets: Provisions should be in place to recover key services, assets and functions should the private sector fail to safeguard them.
___High priority ___ Lower priority ___Not a priority __ No consensus  

4. Privatization is not appropriate:

a. When the government lacks the will, ability or resources to adequately oversee contracts with the private entity and any successor thereto.
__Agree  __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

b. When there is no private entity able or willing to provide the service for the short and long term.
__Agree   __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

c. When it poses a potential threat to national security.
__Agree   __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

d. When it poses a risk to personal or security data.
__Agree   __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

e. When there has been evidence of  potential corruption.
__Agree   __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

f. When the private entity’s goals and purposes are not compatible with public well-being.
__Agree   __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

g. When the private entity has not complied with existing government requirements for public records, open meetings or publication of reports and audits.
__Agree   __Disagree  __ No Consensus 

h. When a loss of revenue decreases government support  for mandated or critical services.
__Agree   __Disagree __ No Consensus 

5.    Some states have developed laws and regulations to control the process of privatization within their jurisdictions.
As a general matter, should privatization be regulated?

___                a. Yes, all privatization efforts should be regulated.         
___                b. Yes, some types of privatization efforts should be regulated.
___                c. No, privatization efforts should never be regulated
___                d. No consensus

6.    Which of the following should be included in the regulatory process when privatizing public assets, services and functions? 

a. Timely public announcements regarding intentions to privatize and the clear and measurable expected benefits to the public
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

b. Public and stakeholder (investors, shareholders, experts) input into the decision and terms of the contract.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

c. Feasibility study regarding performance, costs and benefits.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

d. Adherence to all laws regarding public contracts..
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

e  Transition plans for displaced employees.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

f. Accountability and transparency provisions in all contracts.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

g. Regular performance evaluations including meaningful opportunity for public comment.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

h. Provisions for transferring services and assets back to the government or another contractor in the event of inadequate performance.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

i. Adequate resources for enforcement.
__Strongly agree  __Agree  __Disagree  __Strongly disagree  __No consensus

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