A privatization nightmare

Privatized security guards

A philosophy of contracting out, or privatizing, government services is often espoused by people who think government inefficiency is rampant and that the private sector could provide services better and cheaper. One of the oft-overlooked realities of privatization is the loss of a particular expertise within government if an entire function or service is privatized. Washington D.C. just experienced that reality.

The Washington D.C. school system has privatized security services at its school sites. A company by the name of Hawk One is presently under contract to provide over 300 security guards on 127 school campuses. According to a story in the October 3 Washington Post, Hawk One suddenly announced bankruptcy and the abrupt end of its services.

The school district was without a security force of its own, having privatized the operation, so this created considerable chaos. A stop gap plan of city police and school administrators trying to provide security was hurriedly put in place, and work is underway to develop a strategy for security going forward.  You can bet that Hawk One employees, looking for their final paychecks, will soon be knocking onthe door of the school district too.

Government should be run like the private sector. Yeah, right. Enron, General Motors, ING, Arthur Anderson, Lehman, Washington Mutual, Mervyns, Circuit City, Freedom Communications, and the list goes on of private sector failures. Government should retain internal capacity to provide critical public services and not rely on the management and finance expertise of organizations it does not control. Just ask the Washington D.C. School District.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.