Letter to the editor

Following is a response from an FCW.com poll question that asked: "Is it possible to have a fair competition between public and private groups bidding for the same work?"

Is fair competition between the public and private sectors possible? Definitely. Does it happen? Not as often as it could, and here's why:

Public bodies are usually monopolies and don't typically have to compete for anything (except their piece of the proverbial pie), and there's little incentive to work faster, better and cheaper. Private firms, on the other hand, MUST compete to survive and thrive. Their organizational models are flexible and sensitive to nuances in the market and the economy.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Look at Indianapolis. Under the leadership of then-Mayor Stephen Goldsmith in the 1990s, public departments competed against their private counterparts to provide such municipal services as garbage collection and pothole-filling.

The public workforce was disadvantaged at first because workers didn't have the proper tools and information to compete. With a shift to activity-based costing and changes in the management structure/organizational models, the public departments competed and often won bids for two reasons:

1. They know their own business better than anyone.

2. They do not have to make a profit.

These concepts hold true in the IT world.

Our society is built on the concept of free enterprise and healthy competition. Why isn't our government? With innovative public/private partnership opportunities and an economic climate that's making bureaucratic wheels spin faster, government can no longer afford to operate like a monopoly.

Name withheld by request


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