Whenever I hear something that sounds a little fishy, I always follow my mom’s advice to consider the source. So when two professors from Temple University touted a study praising the quality and cost effectiveness of private prisons, advocates wanted to know who funded it. Not surprisingly, it turned out that the private prison industry paid for the study, a fact conveniently missing from the professors’ early draft and media appearances.
In the Public Interest’s friend and colleague Alex Friedmann, managing editor of the monthly Prison Legal News and associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center, filed an ethics complaint with Temple University. In addition, ITPI and 15 other organizations demanded that Temple conduct an ethics review.
In response, Temple University has disassociated itself from the study. In addition, the methodology behind the study has also been called out for being misleading and its conclusions for being inaccurate.
“In states and cities across the country, lawmakers are expressing new skepticism about privatization, imposing new conditions on government contracting, and demanding more oversight.”
— The Atlantic, 4/23/14
“Is privatization a magic wand? Is it always going to come in and save you money? No. You have to do this well. You have to do your due diligence. You have to do a good contract and then you have to monitor and enforce that contract.”
— Leonard Gilroy, Reason Foundation Director of Government Reform
“The ideological fervor for privatization has ebbed.”
— John D. Donahue, privatization expert, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
Statements like these would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. For decades, runaway outsourcing of public services and assets enjoyed nearly nonstop momentum at the state and local levels. But when even the Reason Foundation is agreeing with us about responsible contracting,
We already know that reckless outsourcing has negative impacts on the local community. But did you know it can also contribute to climate change? In a new op-ed I just published in Next City, Roosevelt University Professor Stephanie Farmer and I explore how poorly structured public-private partnership (P3) deals threaten long-term environmental sustainability.
To do it, we return to an old standby: Chicago’s parking meter debacle. Plans to build rapid bus lines and bike lanes have been put on hold in the Windy City because these projects would “compete” with the Morgan Stanley-backed corporate consortium that now runs the city’s 36,000 parking meters. And like so many other long-term outsourcing contracts, competition is a big no-no.
Chicago taxpayers would have to reimburse the consortium for lost revenue if they build projects that reduce traffic and carbon emissions – like bike lanes and bus rapid transit lines.
Large corporate lobbies have, in recent years, accelerated their push to expand private charter schools. America spends nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars on public education annually and companies such as “cyber-charter” giant, K12 Inc., Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify and Rocketship, a darling of the venture capital industry, see a pot of gold.
A new report by In the Public Interest Scholar Network member Gordon Lafer, for the Economic Policy Institute, examines recent proposals by Wisconsin state legislators to privatize schools, particularly in Milwaukee, and finds that the proposals won’t help poor kids.
How? The proposals call for public schools in the largest and poorest school district to be replaced with private charter schools that substitute online apps for teachers for a significant part of the day. This “blended learning” model primarily focuses on math, literacy and test preparation, while paying minimal attention to other subjects. Also, money earmarked for Milwaukee students is diverted to fund the company’s ambitious growth plans in other cities.
We’re excited to announce the creation of In The Public Interest’s ITPI Scholars Network as the next step in our growth and expanding influence on the issues of privatization and outsourcing of public services and assets across the country.
The ITPI Scholars Network brings together academics who are experts in diverse fields that relate to government privatization and outsourcing as well as responsible contracting.
Three members of the ITPI Scholars Network have recently released or are close to releasing studies that have found that careless outsourcing can harm communities, taxpayers and vulnerable residents:
• Dr. Daphne Greenwood of the University of Colorado released her new study The Decision to Contract Out: Understanding the Full Economic and Social Impacts. She found that reductions in contracted wages and benefits leads to a host of negative effects for the community at large; these harms include declining retail sales,