San Diego City Staff Now 4-0 in Managed Competition, as Miramar Landfill Stays In-House

September 11, 2012 -- Center on Policy Initiatives

Time to let staff bid for work now contracted out, CPI argues

In San Diego, Center on Policy Initiatives' long battle to prevent privatization of the city’s Miramar Landfill ended in July, when city workers won a direct competition to keep their jobs.

It was the fourth time San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders put a city department out to bid against private companies in a process called "managed competition" – and the city staff has won all four times. 

Even the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that city workers demonstrated they “provide taxpayers with the best bang for their buck.”

In an op-ed published in the Union Tribune, CPI Executive Director Clare Crawford said it's time for the city to consider insourcing more services by letting city staff compete for work that is now contracted out. The city now spends $176 million a year on private contractors and consultants.

Instead, the Mayor is continuing his six-year push to put a long list of city functions through the costly and time-consuming managed competition process. Next on the auction block are street and sidewalk maintenance, followed by trash collection.

San Diego uses a managed competition process similar to that used by the federal government, requiring contractors to save at least 10 percent over the employees’ proposal to account for the city’s costs in transitioning to private service delivery. City workers won the landfill competition without applying that differential.

But outsourcing also frequently carries many more hidden costs for taxpayers – such as environmental violations, the loss of local jobs and a lack of transparent and accessible public records.

San Diego voters approved the use of managed competition in a 2006 ballot measure, but the measures specified it could be used only if outsourcing the work saves money and maintained the level of public services.