The Morning Report
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Statement: “By partnering with the private sector to provide services we have saved over $390 million,” County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said in her State of the County speech Feb. 10.
Analysis: When public officials talk about “partnering with the private sector” to deliver services, they are generally referring to outsourcing government services. The county started outsourcing some services in 1998, and supporters say it saves taxpayer money.
When Slater-Price mentioned saving $390 million, however, she mistakenly included other savings that have nothing to do with the private sector. About 90 percent of the $390 million figure came from business process reengineering, or efforts to make government services run more efficiently.
The $390 million figure used in Slater-Price’s speech actually echoed an error made by County Supervisor Dianne Jacob in her State of the County speech last year. At the time of Jacob’s speech, budget documents said the county saved $380 million from outsourcing and reengineering efforts through 2005. Jacob used the number in her speech and referred, incorrectly, to savings from the private sector.
“In the last decade, we’ve saved $380 million by inviting the private sector to help us deliver quality services at the best price for taxpayers,” Jacob said.
Slater-Price took the number from Jacob’s speech, but this time, she rounded the exact figure of $386 million up to $390 million. Had either supervisor only included outsourcing efforts, the savings estimate would have been around $175 million, according to budget documents. That’s still a big number, but significantly less than $386 million.
Lastly, it’s worth noting, the total savings attributed to outsourcing projects have continued to grow since 2005, but still doesn’t come close to $390 million. A few weeks before Slater-Price’s speech, budget officials reported saving about $183 million from outsourcing various county services.
— KEEGAN KYLE