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Prop. C: Privatizing Government Services

Prop. C, a highly politicized and controversial measure, aims to allow city services to be outsourced to private contractors. A professor from Columbia University gives examples of other cities that h

Prop. C: Privatizing Government Services

Tom Fudge : Privatization is a popular notion in local government circles. Getting private firms to provide government services is viewed as a way to cut costs, improve quality and efficiency. And next month, San Diego voters will decide whether to pass Proposition C, which would expose local government services to what’s called managed competition. That basically means city services can be contracted out if the private sector offers a better deal.

Government contracts, of course, are nothing new or revolutionary. Scholars estimate that about half of American tax money goes to government contractors. But the push for further contracting is controversial. The movements to increase privatization, on one hand, or to resist it, on the other, are both fueled by political ideology and economic self interest.


Prop. C is controversial and highly politicized. It has pitted labor unions against local business interests. It has the support of Mayor Jerry Sanders. Some members of the City Council have spoken out against it.


  • Elliott Sclar , professor of urban planning and public affairs at Columbia University and author of You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For: The Economics of Privatization.
  • Carl DeMaio , president of the Performance Institute and San Diego Citizens for Accountable Government. He is speaking of behalf of the “Yes on B & C” c38aign.
  • Donald Cohen , executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives. He is opposed to Proposition C.