Pittsburgh Turns to the Private Sector

Where does government turn when it is unable to carry out its obligations successfully? Why, the private sector of course. Finding itself unable to get streets cleared following the recent snow event, Pittsburgh called in private contractors to help with snow removal.

There is nothing wrong with this action, indeed, it is to be applauded. The irony is that Pittsburgh has one of the most anti-privatization governments on the planet. In fact, it is amazing that we have not heard city union members complaining about their work being "given" to non-union private operators.

The larger point is there are many services the City ought to be contracting out in order to reduce its own employee count and to cut costs. As long, of course, as the contracting process is open and above board. The possibilities of favoritism, cronyism, insider dealing and sabotage are always threats to efficient and cost saving outsourcing. Nevertheless, given the City’s financial plight, there can be no excuse for not moving aggressively to adopt privatization opportunities. Even if that means appointing an outside group to monitor the process to ensure the above mentioned threats do not succeed in undermining the system.