City competition already saving taxpayers millions of dollars
by Mayor Jerry Sanders
Published - 08/08/12 - 01:44 PM | 4779 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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At a time when other cities are grappling with large budget deficits and, in some cases, even going bankrupt, the city of San Diego’s financial turn-around continues to attract national attention.

Our rapidly improving fiscal health, evidenced by projected budget surpluses over the next five years and enhanced public services, can be attributed to a variety of reforms we’ve made, like managed competition, which is saving taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Quite simply, managed competition allows private-sector companies to bid against city employees for the right to provide a variety of municipal services.

So far, four services have been successfully put out to bid: fleet maintenance, landfill operations, publishing and street sweeping. All told, because of competition, we’ve cut our operating costs in these areas by $8.4 million a year.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the city’s employees have won all four competitions. I’m proud of their creativity and drive to perform their work as efficiently as possible.

As for the savings, they are being put to good use: to increase operating hours at branch libraries and recreation centers, to hire more police officers and firefighters and to repave more city streets.

While the results have been impressive, we’re certainly not done.

We have launched competitions for six more services: street and sidewalk repair, trash pick-up, public utilities customer service, stormwater-facilities operation and maintenance, transportation engineering and capital-improvement program delivery.

Regardless of who wins, I have no doubt that millions more will be saved.

Managed competition is just one of the ways we’re rethinking what we do and reducing the cost of city government. Among other things, we’ve streamlined and consolidated city departments, significantly cut expenses related to retiree healthcare and pensions, and reduced what we spend on information technology by more than $7 million a year — all without any reduction in service.

I want to thank the people of San Diego for being a partner in our city’s success — for supporting the steps we’ve taken over the past few years to turn our city around. Together, we’ve come a long way.
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