A Reagan Administration initiative to make the government more efficient by shifting work to private contractors has cost the government more than it has saved, a recent report by the Senate Budget Committee concludes.
Eight agencies have failed to perform any of the feasibility studies ordered by the Office of Management and Budget, the report indicates, while others have made only “token efforts.”
It says even studies that result in contracts can be so costly and time-consuming that any resultant savings are outweighed. The Defense Department has more than 1,700 people assigned to perform “hundreds” of these studies at an estimated annual cost of $150 million to $300 million, the panel found, while the agency estimates savings during the past decade at $27 million to $136 million.
The Education Department has performed only one “privatization” study, of its library. Department sources said the study was too flawed to base a decision on. And action has been blocked by the Congress until it can study the issue.
Tom Tancredo, the department’s controversial regional representative in Denver, was a finalist for the superintendency in nearby Jefferson County.
Mr. Tancredo, who has been criticized for his use of federal mailing privileges to circulate material supporting conservative causes, once taught in a Jefferson County junior high school, but has never held a school administrative post.
His resume was submitted by the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, a conservative group that has opposed tax hikes and likes his support of an educational-voucher system.
“A significant number of constituents expressed an interest in him, and so we thought it appropriate to interview him among the six finalists,” said Kirk Brady, president of the county school board, adding that Mr. Tancredo “had some insights we will find useful.”
The board selected Lewis Finch, superintendent of the Anoka-Hennepin district in Coon Rapids, Minn., who has held several administrative posts.
If you have trouble getting through to the Education Department this week, don’t call the telephone repairman.
All telephone numbers in the department will change as part of the federal government’s conversion to a new interagency communications system.
“It’s being done in the name of efficiency, but it’s sure going to have the opposite effect for a good long while,” one agency spokesman commented.--jm
A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 1990 edition of Education Week as Federal File: Inefficiency; Finalist Tancredo; Wrong numbers