It’s been outsourcing bizarro world at San Diego City Hall this week.

On Monday, City Council’s six Democrats and two Republicans all switched their positions on an outsourcing process substantially similar to one that died this time last year.

Back then the Republicans said the guide for competing out city services was just right. Now, it doesn’t go far enough. For the Democrats, last year the guide went too far. Now, it’s just right.

Even more than that, two council Democrats, Todd Gloria and Donna Frye, endorsed a report on Monday that essentially argues the city should privatize anything it can.

What’s changed, of course, is that the council’s Democrats and Republicans have drawn their battle lines over Proposition D, a sales tax and financial reform ballot measure that includes outsourcing as a major component. The council’s Democrats and Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, want Prop. D passed. The council’s Republicans don’t.

Yesterday, Sanders announced the city was competing out its publishing and fleet maintenance departments, services that cost the city $40 million annually.

The city believes it could save between 10 percent and 25 percent for any department it competitively bids. It based that estimate on a widely cited 2007 study from a libertarian think tank, the Reason Foundation.

But one of the study’s authors opposed the competitive bidding guide the city passed on Monday. The author, Adam Summers, said the bureaucratic restrictions in the process made it “a lot less likely” the city would achieve the higher end of savings his report anticipated.

“The guide I think is more onerous than a lot of other cities,” said Summers, a foundation policy analyst.

If Summers is correct, the city would be saving less than the $27 million annually estimated in Prop. D’s financial analysis once it bids out all the services it plans.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter:

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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