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Letter: Norwalk Has 'Third Option' on Trash Pickup

NORWALK, Conn. — TheDailyNorwalk.com accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to letters @ thedailynorwalk.com .

To the Editor,

In the discussion during the budget cycle about outsourcing garbage collection – whether to do it or not – a third option was apparent to me but was not discussed: competitive sourcing. The notion of a competition to arrive at the Most Efficient Organization is not a new one, as a Google search for the term "A-76 Study" will show. The federal government has been allowing private industry to compete for work with government employees on work that is not inherently government only for many years.

This is fair in my mind. Competitive sourcing is an approach that gives both private contractors and the union the right to bid on the work – and the best proposal wins. This process has been used extensively around the country, most successfully in Indianapolis but also with great success in New York City. In Indianapolis, municipal unions won about 50 percent of the contracts (by figuring out how to cut costs and/or improve services), and private contractors won about 50 percent.

Attached below as a PDF is as a Reason Foundation Policy Brief on Competive Sourcing. Posted above as photographs are a few pages from a book on Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's efforts in New York City (Privatization in the City – Successes, Failures, Lessons by E.S. Savas). The excerpt is also attached as a PDF on an article you can find here.

I see a fair competitive bid as allowing the right people – the citizens of the city of Norwalk – to win. Whether we end up keeping the current employees, or if we end up more closely examining a private contract, we will know the city is doing so for the best deal possible. No vitriol, no spin, nothing but facts and data. Facts and data that will tell us plainly what the right price is.

Competitive sourcing will ensure that whoever wins this bid will do so by adding value for the taxpayers. I hope by leveling the playing field in this manner, we can ensure that our city workers get a fair opportunity to bid on the work and arrive at the saving necessary for them to stay inside the budget set by the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

I hope they come in with a proposal that really improves service and/or saves cost, the council will have saved their jobs and protected the taxpayers. A win-win is possible. To this end, I have asked that Hal Alvord, director of the Department of Public Works, to ensure that a copy of the solicitation is provided to the representatives of the union to encourage and facilitate their response, which will be received by the appropriate city sourcing employees.

I will be seeking to discuss this with all of the other council members at the appropriate time over the next few weeks and I hope that we will be able to go with the best proposal received.

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