Sunshine State Using Outsourcing Rating System

July 9, 2004 ( - Even though Florida Governor Jeb Bush has long been a proponent of outsourcing state jobs to the private sector, state agencies interested in going that route now will have new hoops through which they have to jump.

Under the new state procedure, agency heads will have to cite legal authority for privatizing public jobs and show specifically how doing so would improve the delivery of services, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

At that juncture, a team of five state department heads would evaluate outsourcing focusing on:

  • development
  • procurement
  • contract management
  • transition
  • post-implementation performance management.

So far, t wo out of three privatization projects being considered were already shot down by the new system, said Department of Management Services Secretary Bill Simon. The state is actively looking for a private courier to deliver mail to more than 30 state agencies, replacing about 200 employees in Tallahassee. But proposals to privatize the state’s aircraft fleet and crime lab have already flunked the evaluation process.

Simon said contracting with private flight services never got off the ground, because of the need to maintain the security of the governor and other top state officials and the cost of having planes and pilots standing by on an hour’s notice around the clock. Likewise, a proposal to “outsource” laboratory services of the Florida Department of Law enforcement was rejected because of legal concerns for “chain of custody” for evidence and other law-enforcement considerations, Simon explained.

“Florida has the opportunity to be a national leader in its stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Bush told the newspaper. “Greater accountability, coupled with a more thoughtful and deliberative process, will ensure the promise of providing the best services in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.”

Not surprisingly, public officials were far from unanimous in their support for the new outsourcing evaluation process. Florida State Representative Curtis Richardson, a Democrat whose district includes many state workers, asserted that the Bush initiative is “too little, too late.”

“They’re putting the cart before the horse – in fact, the horse is already out of the barn,” Richardson told the newspaper. “Millions of dollars have already been wasted on privatization, so what’s left to privatize? Governor Bush is almost at the end of his term and now he’s talking about a process for deciding what to privatize.”

Delivering the Mail

Private plane service and crime lab functions may not be in the state’s future, but Simon said privatizing mail services among state agencies has advanced through the process and is now in the procurement level.

“We’ve now got about 32 mailrooms and 28 vehicles with different routes, running mail around Tallahassee and sometimes bumping into each other,” explained Simon. “There are about 200 employees who do nothing else but handle the mail.”

He said the “business case” examination will consider different needs of agencies, potential savings by extra sorting of mail by ZIP Codes and delivery needs. Simon said, for instance, that the Florida Department of Revenue needs faster mail processing than some other agencies because it receives many checks and the state loses interest earnings if they are delayed.