Research

More Dangerous, More Costly: An Analysis of Transportation Outsourcing

Contrary to popular belief, outsourced school transportation services generally have weaker safety records and are more costly than districts operating their own transportation services, according to a number of public documents Minnesota 2020 analyzed for this report.

The Tragedy of the Private, The Potential of the Public

Over the past 30 years, since Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan gained office, it is clear that the problems the welfare state was designed to alleviate - hunger, disease, unemployment, poor living conditions - have thrived once again, as these dogmatically pro-market politicians drove the destruction of the model. In the case of too much of the Global South, their ideology contributed to blocking attempts to build public services where they are most needed.

The Decision to Contract Out: Understanding the Full Economic and Social Impacts

While many studies have examined the risks to government in contracting (such as uncertainties about costs or quality) there has been less attention to the broader social and economic effects of contracting. To understand the impacts on local economies and communities, this report goes beyond the net fiscal impact on governments to the larger question of how changes affect citizen well‐being.

Overlooking Oversight: A Lack of Oversight in the Garden State is Placing New Jersey Residents and Assets at Risk

Governments and to some extent scholars have long treated contract oversight as a trivial or at best mundane sideline to broader issues of privatization. This is a critical mistake. In the context of human services, contractor oversight can prove to be a life or death question. In all contexts, it is crucial to protecting taxpayers’ investment in their government. From services provided to the most vulnerable among us, like child protection and the treatment of the disabled, to prisons that protect us from harm, to more prosaic tasks like maintaining infrastructure, states provide a broad array of services that dramatically affect our lives. The fact that states contract with private companies to provide ever more of these services therefore takes on a heightened sense of urgency. As a corollary, the means by which states oversee these contractors goes from a mundane matter of public administration to a vital matter of public interest. Bucking the trend against detailed examinations of administrative capacity, we conducted an in-depth analysis of how New Jersey oversees its contractors. Our findings were eye-opening.

At Our Expense: Federal Contractors that Harm Workers Also Shortchange Taxpayers

The federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year contract- ing out government services ranging from the design and manufacture of sophisticated weapons systems to janitorial and maintenance work. Yet the review process to ensure that only responsible companies receive federal contracts is very weak, and too often the government contracts with companies with long track records of violating workplace laws. New analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, or CAP Action, shows that contracting with companies with egregious records of workplace violations also frequently results in poor performance of government contracts.

Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations

Eager for quick cash, state and local governments across America have for decades handed over control of critical public services and assets to corporations that promise to handle them better, faster and cheaper.  Unfortunately for taxpayers, not only has outsourcing these services failed to keep this promise, but too often it undermines transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition – the underpinnings of democracy itself.  As state legislatures soon reconvene, policy makers likely will consider more outsourcing proposals.  Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations serves as a cautionary tale for lawmakers and taxpayers alike.

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Death Yards: Continuing Problems with Arizona's Correctional Health Care

On March 6, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) charging that prisoners in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections receive such grossly inadequate medical, mental health, and dental care that they are in grave danger of suffering serious and preventable injury, amputation, disfigurement and premature death.

Looting the Urban Commonwealth: Privatization and the Politics of Austerity

By now we have, literally, file drawers full of case-based evidence and studies1 that document that privatization does not work as predicted, too often providing inferior goods at higher prices with more delays. Despite this, the drive to privatize continues. The reason is simple. Regardless of how poorly any venture turns out, virtually all of them are profitable for the promoters and providers. The structural cause of this situation can be summed up simply: privatization invariably privileges the profit needs of private providers over the vital social goods needs of society.

Making the Grade? Questions to Ask About School Services Privatization

This guide provides examples of important questions that decision makers should consider when faced with a proposed privatization effort. Advocates, including school service personnel, teachers, parents, and members of the community can use these questions to ensure that decision makers keep students’ and the broader district’s best interest at the heart of these conversations. They should be able to answer each of these questions before making the decision to privatize school services. These questions can be helpful to use during meetings with school administrators, in testimony at school board hearings, and even in meetings with allies to draw attention to problems with a proposed privatization initiative. While this is not a complete or exhaustive guide, it provides a framework for examining and evaluating school services privatization.

Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and "Low-Crime Taxes" Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations

This report discusses the use of prison bed occupancy guarantee clauses in prison privatization contracts and explores how bed occupancy guarantees undermine criminal justice policy and democratic, accountable government. The report sheds light on the for-profit private prison industry’s reliance on high prison populations, and how these occupancy guarantee provisions directly benefit its bottom line. Also discussed are the prevalence of bed guarantee clauses, drawing on set of contracts that ITPI obtained through state open records requests. We also address how occupancy guarantees have harmed states, focusing on the experiences of Arizona, Colorado, and Ohio — three states that have agreed to these provisions to detrimental consequences. Lastly, the report discusses our recommendation that governments can and should reject prison occupancy guarantees.

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