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Managed Competition Will Pit City Workers Against Private Sector

— San Diego City Council has taken the first big step toward allowing private companies to do city work. The "managed competition" idea was approved by voters in 2006, but until now the city hasn't moved to put the idea into practice.

The city's publishing and vehicle-maintenance divisions will be the first to bid on keeping jobs in the public sector.

Mayor Jerry Sanders says those workers will have to show that they can do the job cheaper than private sector companies. If they can’t, the work will go to the lowest bidder.

“City employees in the fleet-maintenance and publishing divisions will be able to compete with the private sector by submitting bids of their own,” said Sanders. “At minimum, this process will give us confidence that our current operations are the biggest bang for the buck.”

City Councilmember Todd Gloria has been a critic of managed competition since voters approved it in 2006. Now he believes that the competition could be good for San Diego, as part of a larger plan that would also include increasing revenue, and reforming the way the city operates.

“I accept that managed competition must be a part of a comprehensive approach to eliminating, once-and-for-all, the city’s structural budget deficit,” said Gloria.

City workers and public companies will place their bids in January. Sanders hopes to have a winning bid before the 2012 budget is finalized.

The City of San Diego is wrestling with a $72-million budget deficit.

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