Bush’s Privatization Plan Irks Labor Leaders

November 17, 2002

Liane Hansen: In an unexpected move this past week, the

Bush Administration announced a plan to privatize thousands

of Government jobs over the next several years. Under the

initiative, private contractors will be able to compete

with current Government employees for up to 850,000

non-management positions. There have been efforts to

downsize and privatize the Federal workforce in previous

administrations, including President Bill Clinton, but

labor unions say this plan signals an anti labor union

attitude. In the Bush White House, the Office of Management

and Budget argues that it’s intended to save money and

improve government efficiency. How much money can be saved

is the subject of dispute. According to Paul Light,

[Director of the Center for Public Service] at the

Brookings Institution.

Paul Light: We don’t have really good data on whether we

actually have long-term savings; it’s all really quite

sketchy. There is some limited data which suggests the

private sometimes saves up to 30% of costs, but we’re not

exactly sure what’s going on. They may low-bid to get the

contract, and once the Federal Government denudes itself of

its capacity, they start ratcheting up their costs. The

Federal Government is surrounded by an empire of

quasi-permanent private contractors without whom the

Federal Government could not do its job. We estimate that

they’re are roughly three private contractors for every full-time Federal employee, the Bush proposal…

Listen to entire interview (Real Audio 4:38mins)