Open Government

WPC's Center for Government Reform's mission is to partner with stakeholders and citizens to work toward a government focused on its core functions while improving its transparency, accountability, performance, and effectiveness for taxpayers.

What's New

Lawmakers at work

April 19, 2010 in In the News
Spokesman Review (Spokane)
Spokesman Review (Spokane)
Monday, April 19, 2010

Sen. Brandland makes top 5 for missed votes in Senate

April 18, 2010 in In the News
Bellingham Herald
Bellingham Herald
Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ghost Bills and Closed Meetings Fail to Solve Olympia's Budget Woes

April 17, 2010 in Publications

With Democrats very much in control in Olympia, and Republicans on the sidelines, one would expect the legislature to close this year’s looming $2.8 billion budget gap with orderly dispatch. Instead Washingtonians were treated to a dizzying round of closed-door meetings, surprise hearings, do-overs, missed deadlines and bills with no text.

Budget Brings a Cavalcade of Taxes

April 17, 2010 in Publications

Puget Sound Business Journal published this op-ed on April 23, 2010.

The 2009-11 supplemental budget recently enacted by the state Legislature, which increases taxes by $800 million, does not deal a fatal blow to any particular industry. Instead, legislators this year decided on the “death by a thousand cuts” approach to raising taxes.

Unfortunately, much of the tax increase falls directly on consumers and the business community, big and small.

Washington residents to see ObamaCare Taxes Now, Services Later

April 17, 2010 in Publications

This op-ed first appeared in Spokane's daily newspaper, the Spokesman Review, on Sunday, March 28, 2010. WPC now has a regular column in the Spokesman Review that will appear in the last weekend of each month

Is outsourcing "anti-government?"

April 16, 2010 in Blog

Many lawmakers have started blogs to keep their constituents informed on the issues of the day. One of the more policy focused blogs is Rep. Reuven Carlyle's (D-36). Rep. Carlyle has taken heat from his party's traditional allies for using his experience as a small business owner to advocate for usually taboo policies such as competitive contracting and privatization.

Responding to this criticism, Rep. Carlyle posted this blog entry yesterday: "Is there a progressive approach to privatization?"

The full post is worth reading. Here is a snap shot of the discussion:

"But some of the deeper, more holistic and thoughtful questions at the state level follow these lines: What is the highest value role for state employees regarding service delivery? When is the profit motive (ie outsourcing or privatizing a s!
ervice) a violation of the state’s fiduciary moral obligation to citizens? When can harm come from letting oversight of service delivery take second place to cost? Can we stop paying such a high price for low cost services? Do state employee-based services that may still be commodities add intangible value that should be captured? (such as jobs!)

The philosophical and policy foundation of my policy position is that as a general statement state government should not be in the business of delivering most commodity services. For example, the state purchases billions of dollars worth of concrete, steel, wood and other commodities for construction. Yet it would make absolutely no sense for the state to be in the concrete, steel or wood business. It’s just not a core competency. Cruise ships purchase more steaks than anyone else in the world, but they don’t go into the slaughter and meatpacking businesses . . .

Can state employees perform a service for less!
cost since they don’t have the profit motive and don’t ne!
ed to constantly deliver marginal savings? Yes. But can the marketplace improve quality and lower costs due to the insatiable need for innovation? Yes.

The larger systems challenge, of course, is to get the lower price along with the quality innovation. Never easy to do. But the bottom line is that when it comes to back-end, commodity services where efficiency really matters to reduce marginal costs the marketplace of the private sector is–in my view–going to be more successful than government.

In many ways my philosophical grounding in using the private sector more forcefully for back-end commodity services is driven by a belief that I want state employees overseeing the safety of foster youth and other fiduciary obligations where a profit motive is of no meaningful value to society. I want to use those tax dollars not to pay for back-end, commodity services like hosting servers but to send students to colleges, support foster youth, improve our s!
chools and much more.

The great challenge of leading our state is to find ways to get the best of both worlds: The fiduciary oversight of dedicated public employees doing high value people-oriented work along with the innovation and cost controls of the marketplace."

Well said.

With the state once again facing a multi-billion dollar deficit in the next budget, fundamental reforms are needed. This includes the utilization of competitive contracting and privatization of commercial activities. 

Is Outsourcing "Anti-Government?"

April 16, 2010 in In the News
Seattle PostGlobe
Seattle PostGlobe
Friday, April 16, 2010