In 2012 the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa administered a survey of cities and school districts to identify current practices in contracting/outsourcing of services or functions. Such contracts can be with other local governments or with private sector providers. Responses were received from all twelve school districts and all sixteen cities surveyed. All analysis is based on the responses provided.
The Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa is interested in contracting/outsourcing because it can be an important tool for controlling costs and/or improving service. It is not an appropriate approach in every instance, but it can be effective in cutting costs when it helps local governments reduce dependence on the expensive public sector staffing model and/or it can help spread unit costs out among more subscribers. To view last last year’s survey results on salary and benefits for cities and schools, visit:
The potential for improved service comes about through specialization: the service or function may be a provider’s core competency or specially developed expertise, whereas most local governments engage in such a diverse range of activities that none can be expert in everything. Sometimes a local government can become a center of excellence, however, in a particular service or function.
When contracting, a local government remains accountable to citizens for the service, but exercises accountability through the terms and administration of the contract rather than by directly supervising its own employees.
The Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa encourages local governments to regularly review all opportunities for achieving efficiencies, including contracting/outsourcing of services. This report on contracting/outsourcing practices is intended to serve as a resource for:
- Citizens, to see which local governments have been aggressive in adopting cost-effective service delivery options; and
- Local governments, to:
- See how they compare in the extent to which they use this tool;
- Identify what the next opportunities may be; and
- Determine who has been down the road before with a particular service or function, and may therefore be able to offer assistance as the next opportunity is pursued.