ITPI Resources and Publications

Prison Conditions are Working Conditions

Inhumane conditions in overcrowded and understaffed prisons harm inmates and correctional officers alike. Those interested in protecting workers have much in common with those who seek to improve conditions for incarcerated people.

ITPI Privatization Resource Guide

The resources in this resource guide are produced by ITPI, members of the ITPI Scholars Network and other close allies. The publications are intended to provide educational information and inform winning campaigns to ensure that public services and assets are publicly controlled and contracts with private entities are transparent, accountable, effectively monitored, and that those contracts meet the long-term needs of communities.

Standing Guard: How Unaccountable Contracting Fails Governments and Taxpayers

When governments outsource vital public services, how carefully are contractors being watched? As local and state governments increasingly contract out critical public services that are crucial to the well-being of the community, the need for robust contract oversight is pressing. Yet, recent research and the experiences of cities and states across the county show that too often contract oversight is lax. 

Robust oversight means that the government can hold contractors accountable for their performance, and ensure that the public receives quality services at a reasonable cost. Proper oversight can protect public health and safety. Strong oversight allows governments to catch waste, fraud, and abuse in real time instead of long after the fact, and correct mistakes before they result in serious harm.

Lax oversight has detrimental impacts for the people served by a program or service, and for the public at large. Poor oversight of government contracts can mean:

  • Wasted public tax dollars
  • Fraud and abuse
  • Poor quality of service and underperformance by contractors
  • Risk to vulnerable residents and to public health and safety

Problems with contract oversight are pervasive. These problems occur in cities and states across the country and across all sectors of government, including health and human services, criminal justice, information technology, education, public works, and more. Recent research and numerous examples illustrate why contract oversight often falls short. This report discusses common problems and the real world consequences of lax oversight, and provides policy recommendations to help cities and states improve their oversight of government contracts. The appendix provides additional examples of recent government contract problems not included in the report.  

Shift: How Taxpayers Began Reclaiming Control of their Public Services

In 2014, nineteen states saw action to curb the reckless outsourcing of public services, and four states so far have signed responsible contracting measures into law. This legislative recap includes a chart and map showing the legislative shift. 

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Race to the Bottom: How Outsourcing Public Services Rewards Corporations and Punishes the Middle Class

Race to the Bottom Report Image

As state and local governments outsource important public functions to for-profit and other private entities, what happens to the quality of life for the workers who provide these services, and the communities in which they live? A growing body of evidence and industry wage data suggest an alarming trend: outsourcing public services sets off a downward spiral in which reduced worker wages and benefits can hurt the local economy and overall stability of middle and working class communities. By paying family-supporting wages and providing important benefits such as health insurance and sick leave, governments historically created intentional “ladders
of opportunity” to allow workers and their families to reach the middle class. This is especially true for women and African Americans for whom the public sector has been a source of stable middle-class careers. Low-road government contracts reverse this dynamic. While corporations rake in increasing profits through taxpayer dollars and CEO compensation continues to soar, numerous examples in this report show that workers employed by state and local government contractors receive low wages and few benefits.


The Cost of Private Prisons

The private prison industry claims that governments can save money by privatizing prisons, but what does the evidence actually indicate? This backgrounder summarizes recent research and state reports related to private prison costs, and then discusses some common, yet dangerously flawed and unsound tactics employed to make private prisons appear cost effective.

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Infrastructure Justice: Building Equity into Infrastructure Financing

Public funding of infrastructure is well known to be the least expensive way to finance major infrastructure projects. But in light of the pressure governments face to aggressively pursue private funds for public infrastructure, we believe it is critical to clarify our goals and principles so that Public-Private Partnerships are truly structured as win-win-win propositions.

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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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.