Detroit News covers CLOSUP privatization survey

November 24, 2014

Results from a recent survey released by the Ford School’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) served as the basis for a Detroit News editorial advocating that municipalities continue to turn to privatization and intergovernmental cooperation to cut costs.

The CLOSUP privatization survey found that 65 percent of local governments in Michigan outsource services to private companies, including 84 percent of the largest jurisdictions in the state.

Privatization was spurred largely by the desire to decrease costs and overcome a lack of in-house expertise, according to the U-M news release that announced the survey results.

However, while nearly 75 percent of officials from jurisdictions that outsourced services were satisfied with their experiences, relatively few – only 10 percent – expect to increase outsourcing in 2015.

This, according to the Detroit News, is mistaken thinking.

“While the survey is impartial and does not draw any conclusions about the value of intergovernmental cooperation and privatization, the message is clear: These practices will help municipalities trim budget costs and operate at a more efficient level while still providing services to residents,” the op-ed held. “It would bode well for state, county and local municipalities to explore more fervently and frequently inter-government cooperation and privatization.”

Tom Ivacko (MPA ‘93), CLOSUP’s program manager, spoke with the Detroit News and is quoted in the editorial. “Our hope is over time we’ll have this incredibly valuable data source to aid not only public policymakers but researchers as well,” Ivacko said of the survey, which was first taken in 2009. “Also, we hope to increase accountability and transparency in the public sector.”