Outsourcing everything!!

July 23, 2010 at 9:59 am 3 comments

By Peter Baeck

In Maywood, California, public services to the small towns 45.000 residents are no longer being delivered by the city. As a result of the financial crisis and the fear of bankruptcy, the city council has chosen to outsource all public services, either to private contractors or to neighbouring towns and cities. One immediate result of this has been making the cities 96 employees redundant (some of these have since been hired as contractors to the cities new providers).

 A part of this new setup means that The LA Sheriff’s Department will handle all policing in Maywood and the neighboring city of Bell will cover other city functions, such as staffing City Hall. On policing alone, the contract with the LA sheriffs department will cost only half of the existing costs for police in Maywood and the number of patrol cars on the street delivered in the new contract is higher than what Maywood could previously deliver by itself.

As Chris Hoene, research director at the National League of Cities explains in this article, Maywood is not unique, the financial crisis means that more and more American cities are looking for radical ways of making cuts and delivering a public services.

“Everything is on the table (..) The fiscal stress cities are feeling mean they are looking for alternative options to deliver services that cost less money.”

Although Maywood is an extreme example and based in the US, the issues and pressure they are facing are still highly relevant to towns and Local Authorities in the UK. Although no town or Local Authority in the UK can or would want to outsource all services as they did in Maywood, it is an interesting experiment, and I think there is still a need to ask many of the same questions to the services they deliver as they did in Maywood. In particular, whether it would be both cheaper and better to outsource services to other public (or private) partners and joining up services to reduce administrative costs and improve quality.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Shakespeare would have wanted the kids at Kingsmead school to study the Simpsons Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “above all, try something”

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jon Harvey  |  July 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Have they commissioned on processes, outputs or outcomes? How will this be evaluated? Are there any hidden transactional costs. Have they outsourced the risks too – or are they still in the (political) hands of the council? Or are the risks shared? What politicians run the council?

  • 2. Mr. Google  |  July 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Great article Peter,

    I have seen both good and bad with economic hard times. It’s never good to see people losing their jobs and suffering the indignity of poverty, but a lot of people have limited their spending, new cities are being planned smarter, old cities are changing their wasteful ways and all of our brightest minds are focusing on energy and finance problem. When we eventually come out of this we will be better than ever.

  • 3. thirup  |  September 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Sorry about the late reply, must have got the wrong settings and wasn’t alerted of your comments. Jon, to be honest i dont know much more about Maywood than what is written in the blog, which i picked up from two articles on the subject. But you are right, it is really interesting how they measure output and outcomes. On the commissioning, i know a lot the work that Maywood used to do, they have contracted out to neighbouring cities. So policing for example is exactly the same as before or higher, but all admin is handled by neighbour city department. I just read this article in the Guardian about Suffolk Inc, which will be interesting to follow as they seem to follow alot of the same principles as Maywood http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/22/suffolk-county-council-outsource-services (Ill write a second blog about this soon)


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