Saturday, June 5, 2010

San Diego Grand jury recommends outsourcing for everyone

Craig Gustafson

Friday, June 4, 2010 p.m.30 2:46 p.m.

No matter what you want to call it -- outsourcing, managed competition, business process re-engineering or reverse auction -- the San Diego County Grand Jury thinks it's a fine way to save taxpayer money.

The grand jury released a report Thursday that calls on the city of San Diego to declare an impasse with its labor unions so it can enact managed competition, which voters approved in 2006. That process would force city workers to compete with private companies to provide services, which many believe will lead to savings no matter who wins.

The city hasn't moved forward with managed competition because Mayor Jerry Sanders has yet to reach a deal with labor unions on how to proceed. The City Council voted along party lines -- all six Democrats voted no -- last fall to block Sanders' request to declare an impasse and move ahead without union approval.

But the grand jury didn't stop there. The panel called on nearly every other public agency in the county to follow in the footsteps of San Diego County government, which has saved about $678 million as of 2008 by using managed competition and other methods, according to the report.

It didn't take long for City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is gathering signatures for a November ballot measure that would force the city to enact managed competition, to tout the grand jury's findings.

"The county grand jury has now provided independent analysis that taxpayers could save millions each year through competition," he said in a statement.

The grand jury's recommendation will likely have no impact on city leaders as they aren't expected to move forward with managed competition anytime soon.

The 19-member grand jury is made up of county residents that investigate and report on local governments. Agencies must respond to the recommendations within 90 days.

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