Photo credit: @julesdwit.
A not-for-profit media organization supported by people like you.
City Limits reporters Adrienne Day and Ruth Ford talk about their investigation into the growing use of contractors for city services -- beyond the scandal-plagued City Time contract.
I worked as a tutor for an education contractor (funded by the No Child Left Behind Act) and truly believe that the inherent problem with CONTRACTS for public services will always be the lack of transparency. If the company hires young employees (with a relative high turnover), all of the ills of the program can be well hidden. The result was that we were under.trained, under.paid and under.resourced. My job seemed like a waste of time with lots of paperwork and poorly written books while the money should have been spent on an integrated program in the schools rather than through these contracting tutoring for-profit businesses.
Home care is a huge cash cow with zero oversight, although they've been desperately attempting to clean house recently. HRA rings daily with the sound of that revolving door that was mentioned. No concept of conflict of interest in that department. The attitude that government is easy money is huge among the private and "Non-Profit" sector that take complete advantage of these programs. Your guest hit the nail on the head: there's nothing wrong with the private sector per se but because these are ideologically driven decisions by people like Bloomberg there is no money in the budget for oversight choosing to ignore the fact that oversight and accountability are the key to efficiency.
No one, including these "investigative reporters," (hah!), wants to talk about the ineptitude in the city tech management corps. Contractors have been taking advantage of this problem for decades. And suggesting, as some continue to do, that the city do its own IT development is simply ridiculous. The knowledge and skills don't exist within the ranks, and the city can't afford to hire them.
A government "overage" report, naming names, needs to be issued yearly, if it isn't already and reviewed in a public forum.
Of course, it's a contractor's bonanza - from here to Afghanistan. We do need to hire certain expertise, but I wish people like your guest could do more than complain. Does she not have any accountability solutions? Can she ask the simple questions that would hold the city accountable. I just don't like how flippant your guest is about billions in waste of our money.
All this talk about large, bad software projects reminds me of an old saying: "An elephant is a mouse built by a committee".
I haven't seen the City Limits series, which I plan to. Privatizing city agencies has been embedded for decades now: we ceded management of Central and Prospect Parks to private nonprofits; we have Business Improvement Districts that are extracting "fees" (rather than taxes) for basic city services, so those areas that can afford them receive better services than the general, less-well-funded public, while the city and state cut back. This is not new--I'm glad they're focusing on it.
The one thing not explored in past discussions of this is that while privatizing politicians claim there's some financial benefit for outside services, what we need to factor in is that there should be consistent, steady, knowledgeable oversight *of* the private contractors. Just like with public sector workers. Otherwise you get the scandals of the bribed electrical work of years ago etc.
Software is not the solution its a tool. You don't always need computers and software to get things done, a lot of times its a waist of time and money.
But it can really really profitable for the software and hardware companies to sell their "crap"
Have a look at the Cheney/Bush outsourced-Pentagon/Military Complex® model.
No one... NO ONE knows where the trillions go, anymore.
The Blackwater crimes prove that the Federal government will assert — and judges will mindlessly go along with — the claim that private contractors are also _exempt_ from many of the legal challenges that could be brought against public agencies.
This is all about passing taxpayer money to wealthy private interests and completely insulating those private interests from any responsibility.
Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, James K. Galbraith, Nouriel Roubini, Lawrence Lessig, Simon Johnson -- all get this. Why is it so hard for 'journalists' (the two guests among the exceptions) to get this?
I have spoken to NYC teachers using SESIS, and it has been nothing short of a nightmare. Takes up a LOT of their working AND supposed leisure-time, and is VERY unforgiving. They hate it intensely. Another costly, well-intentioned software product that keeps people from doing their actual jobs.
those who can, do. those who can't, consult.
businesses are out to make money and not worry about the people.
The City Council held testimony on City Time when the price tag jumped from $63 to $140 million. Addabbo hosted this investigation; Quinn evaded the issue, as did Comptroller Thompson.
We know now that Mark Page was behind Ciyy Time.
Why have there been no charges --- not even an investigation --- behind the multiple cost overruns?
Part of the problem here is that Bloomberg and like-minded fanatics of privatization (like Greenspan, Rubin, Clinton, Geithner, etc.) take as _axiomatic_ that privatizing _must_ save money. They just assert that privatizing will save money -- no need to check the facts. This is the Reagan obscenity. It's false, as proven again and again in education, health care, housing, and a host of other areas. But doesn't matter. Wall Street makes billions out of privatization. We the 99% pick up the tab for their crimes and mistakes (what Galbraith called "innocent fraud").
Dictating policy doesn't sound good.
Can you ask your guest to explain "Privatize the profits and socialize the losses."
Email addresses are required but never displayed.
Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
Subscribe on iTunes
Brian Lehrer Weekend: Christmas Culture; (Male) Managers; Poet Claudia Rankine
WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York's flagship public radio
stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR and PRI, as well as a wide range of award-winning local
programming. WNYC is a division of
New York Public Radio.