• Higher costs to consumers
• Project cost overruns and other hidden costs to government
• Government costs of managing and monitoring contracts
• Hidden costs to the community

The most popular reason for privatization is the promise of cost savings. This is especially pronounced in difficult economic conditions, when elected officials are faced with serious budget shortfalls. Officials at all levels of government have considered selling off state assets for quick cash or privatizing important services in the hopes of saving money. But communities across the country have found that investors pay low prices for valuable assets to cash-strapped governments, then impose steep fee increases on consumers or other measures to maximize their income from the asset. In many cases, the money received from a 50- to 99-year asset concession lease may fill budget holes for the coming year but fall far short of the actual long-term value.

Likewise, cost overruns in large service contracts can negate any projected savings. The costs of managing and monitoring the contract and hidden transactional costs often are not included in the calculations of projected savings, distorting the true cost of the contract. Increased costs may also appear as hidden cost to the community. For example, government jobs often include health benefits that are lost when the jobs are outsourced to private companies. As a result, more workers may need to rely on the government, thus increasing government costs. Many of the private employees who take these jobs receive lower wages and little or no benefits. Several recent studies have measured the increased use of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Medicaid programs when workers are denied living wages and health benefits. The cost saving projections that governments use to justify privatization decisions are often incomplete and erroneous. As numerous examples have confirmed, privatization of assets and services often fails to have the desired budgetary effect that many corporations lead governments to expect.

ITPI recently released a new backgrounder brief that discusses the high costs of privatization.  Read it here.

Backgrounder Brief: Insourcing

Publication Date: 

Open the Competition: Insourcing Is the New Outsourcing

By Clare Crawford, Center on Policy Initiatives

Four times, the city of San Diego has pitted city workers against private companies in a competition for the continued responsibility to provide an essential city service. All four times, the city workers have proved that they –as U-T San Diego put it last week – “provide taxpayers with the best bang for their buck.”

The evidence is in. Given the chance, city staff can figure out how to do their work at a lower cost than private, for-profit companies can.Read more »

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Fool Us Twice?

Fool us twice? Think again, Chicago. 


By Donald CohenRead more »

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Is Administration Leaner in Charter Schools? Resource Allocation in Charter and Traditional Public Schools

Publication Date: 

We Can Improve Our Water Systems Without Tripling Household Bills

By Mary Grant, Food and Water Watch

If you're a regular denizen of a U.S. city, water infrastructure is probably out of sight and out of mind - that is until you have to boil your water before drinking it, or your water bill skyrockets, or a clogged sewer pipe swamps your lawn or a broken water main floods the road stopping traffic.Read more »

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The Private Prison Industry: Resistance isn't Futile

By Eric Lotke, SEIU

The private prison industry is on the march. In recent months the industry moved to take over 24 state prisons in southern Florida and buy five prisons in Ohio. Now it's making moves in Michigan.

But the industry doesn't always win. Resistance isn't futile.Read more »

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