To search for model legislation, research, reports, and more, type your area of interest into the search bar above. You can filter your search by state, level of government, document type, and policy area to match the info you need to your unique community’s progressive goals.
Government contractors are incentivized to cut corners to show that they are a “cheaper” alternative to non-contracted works, often resulting in deception and lack of transparency that harms workers, the public, and the environment, while leading to cost overruns. Public officials can protect against the harms caused by inappropriate corporate cost-cutting through greater oversight of contracted work.
This report highlights the impact of state and local governments outsourcing public services on the quality of life for workers and communities. A growing body of evidence, including industry wage data, suggests 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. The report outlines the short- and long-term impacts of how outsourcing affects a community, as well as case studies that show the on-the-ground effects of this outsourcing. The recommendations to alleviate these impacts center on greater oversight by state or local governments of contractors include oversight of wages and benefits for workers, creation of a public database of these contracts, and other measures to protect workers and the community.
This report provides case studies that illustrate how private contractors hide three key types of information: the fees they charge the public, how they spend public funds, and details on the quality of public services. Decision-makers should adopt strong sunshine laws that require government contractors to follow the same disclosure rules as government entities. This report highlights ways government contractors shield important information from disclosure by claiming that transparency by claiming that the information is a “trade secret” or “proprietary” and legally protected from public review. Strong sunshine laws can promote transparency by guaranteeing citizens access to information regarding government expenditures and policies.
As local and state governments increasingly contract out public services that impact the well-being of their community, the need for robust contract oversight is increasing. A lack of oversight has detrimental impacts on the people served by a program or service, and for the public at large. With increased oversight, the government will be more capable of catching waste, fraud, and abuse in real-time, allowing for better outcomes. This report outlines the common problems and real-world consequences of lax oversight and provides policy recommendations to help cities and states improve their oversight of government contracts. These recommendations include incorporating oversight costs into the decision-making process and establish formal contract monitoring.
This report outlines the ways in which the privatization of public goods and services has harmed working-class communities and communities of color. Analysis from In The Public Interest identifies five ways mechanisms of privatization that disproportionately hurt poor individuals and families: the creation of user fees, increasing existing user fees, privatization of the social safety net, decreased wages and benefits, and increased socioeconomic and racial segregation. Recommendations for counteracting these impacts include investing in public goods, accurately accounting for the social and economic impacts of privatization, ensuring that government contracts promote shared economic prosperity, and increased transparency.
Public-private partnerships (known as “P3s”) use private capital to finance public infrastructure projects, and should generally be avoided. Private funding of infrastructure is more expensive than public funding and result in the loss of democratic control over public policy decisions, reduced labor standards, and public information becoming confidential. P3 partnerships should only be entered into if they are structured on a “win-win-win” foundation: a win for the public, a win for the economy, and a win that generates an adequate rate of return for double-bottom line investors. The win for the public comes from infrastructure being rebuilt, while the economic win is creating jobs that lift families out of poverty, preserving the middle class, and building essential infrastructure.
Public-private partnerships (P3s) to build infrastructure, are increasingly structured around “availability payments,” which advocates argue are a better alternative than more traditional revenue-risk contracts. However, availability payments are long-term financial commitments that can lead local governments to take on unsustainable amounts of debt. Availability payments are made by the governmental entity to the private group once the piece of infrastructure is available or completed. These recurring payments are generally much less risky for the private groups since the risk is placed onto the governmental entity. For the availability payment to be considered, it is important to understand the long-term financial implications of the plan and for policymakers to ask questions of both the private group and the process itself. These recommended questions include: Are there any anticipated or even somewhat likely events that could cause challenges to the governmental entity making the availability payments at any point in the long-term contract period? Has the governmental entity identified contingent liabilities associated with a proposed availability payment P3?.
Kansas and Iowa have recently privatized the Medicaid services provided to veterans. The experience of both states highlights the dangers of privatization: veterans programs have suffered cuts in care and diminished oversight and transparency while reducing costs far less than expected. These changes have been devastating for many veterans that depend on the program for life-sustaining care in these states. Public management of healthcare systems such as Medicaid should remain publicly managed to ensure high-quality care.
Water privatization has often proven to be harmful to communities, workers, and the environment, and should not be relied on to help municipalities. While many water systems need improvements, corporate control does not provide a solution to provide long-term sustainability, regulatory compliance, improved water quality, or equitable and affordable access. The corporate control of water systems leads to loss of public control and decision making, reduced access and affordability, and declines in quality that jeopardize health and safety. Private water corporations seek to extract value from struggling systems by raising rates and, in many cases, cutting corners to reduce operating costs, negatively impacting water and/or service quality, which are particularly felt by low-income families and communities of color. If privatization has already occurred, local governments should not renew contracts and should move towards insourcing or reverse-privatization.
The rapid growth in the number of charter schools amounts to the privatization of public education. These schools receive public education money and because of this are often referred to as “public schools,” but this is a mischaracterization. Charter schools are privately operated and generally exempt from many important laws and policies by which public schools must abide. Twenty percent of these schools are operated like for-profit businesses, and many of the schools that are themselves not-for-profit are run by for-profit management companies. Charter schools are less accountable, less transparent, and adjusted for neighborhoods, do not offer substantial performance improvements over public schools. For charter schools to contribute to the public good, they must be accountable in how they manage both the school and public education dollars, operate without undermining existing public schools, and provide a high-quality education for their students.