Privatizing Government Services

December 8, 2017 – Volume 27, Issue 43
Do business-run public services save taxpayers money? By Reed Karaim


[1] Michael Laris, “Trump advisers call for privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure,” The Washington Post, May 23, 2017,

[2] Tony Newmyer and Damian Paletta, “Trump backs off vow that private sector should help pay for infrastructure package,” The Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2017,

[3] E. S. Savas, Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships (2000), p. XIV.

[4] Paul Verkuil, Outsourcing Sovereignty: Why Privatization of Government Threatens Democracy and What We Can Do About it (2007), p. 1.

[5] Erika Eichelberger, “Who Really Runs Your City?” Talking Points Memo, 2016,

[6] Sean McFate, “America's Addiction to Mercenaries,” The Atlantic, Aug. 12, 2016, “Private Debt Collection,” The Internal Revenue Service, Aug. 7, 2017,

[7] David Hoffman, “Report of Inspector General's Finding and Recommendations: An Analysis of the Lease of the City's Parking Meters,” Office of the Inspector General, City of Chicago, June 2, 2009,

[8] Michael Martz and Robert Zullo, “Virginia awards contract for I-66 under new approach that saves state $2.5 billion,” The Richmond Times Dispatch, Nov. 3, 2016,

[9] Molly Ball, “The Privatization Backlash,” The Atlantic, April 23, 2014, Also see “Pay to Prey, Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America's Public Services,” Center for Media and Democracy, 2014,

[10] Eichelberger, op. cit.

[11] For background, see Richard L. Worsnop, “Privatization,” CQ Researcher, Nov. 13, 1992, pp. 977–1000.

[12] Steven Pearlstein, “The federal outsourcing boom and why it's failing Americans,” The Washington Post, Jan. 31, 2014,

[13] John DiIulio Jr. and Paul Verkuil, “Want a leaner government? Hire more federal workers,” The Washington Post, April 21, 2016,

[14] Leonard Gilroy, “Local Government Privatization 101,” The Reason Foundation, March 16, 2010,

[15] “Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors,” Project on Government Oversight, 2012,

[16] “Race to the Bottom: How Outsourcing Public Services Rewards Corporations and Punishes the Middle Class,” In the Public Interest, June 2014,

[17] Newmyer and Paletta, op. cit.

[18] “Using Public-Private Partnerships to Carry Out Highway Projects,” Congressional Budget Office, January 2012,

[19] Ibid.

[20] Lydia O'Neal and David Sirota, “Trump's Infrastructure Plan is Actually Pence's — And It's All About Privatization,” Newsweek, Sept. 4, 2017,

[21] For background, see Reed Karaim, “Charter Schools,” CQ Researcher, March 10, 2017, pp. 217–240.

[22] Donald Cohen, “The Fastest Road in America Is Falling Apart. Here's Why,” HuffPost, Sept. 23, 2017,

[23] Danielle Ivory, Ben Protess and Griff Palmer, “In American Towns, Private Profits from Public Works,” The New York Times, Dec. 24, 2016,

[24] “Selling Out Consumers: How Water Prices Increased After 10 of the Largest Water System Sales,” In the Public Interest, June 2011,

[25] Ivory, Protess and Palmer, op. cit.

[26] Yvette Hammett, “Tampa's toll-lanes plan intrusive, elitist, obsolete, protestors say,” Tampa Bay Times, Feb. 6, 2016,

[27] David Hedgpeth, “$34.50 for 10 Miles? New Tolls on I-66 Kick Off With Some High Rates,” The Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2017,; Dana Hedgpeth and Luz Lazo, “I-66 toll hits $40 on day 2. Virginia transportation chief: ‘No one has to pay a toll,’” The Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2017,

[28] “History of education in the United States,”, 2017,

[29] Daniel Klein and John Majewski, “Turnpikes and Toll Roads in Nineteenth-Century America,”,

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Henry Petroski, The Road Taken: The History and Future of America's Infrastructure (2016), p. 117.

[33] For background, see C. Hankin, “The Supreme Court and the New Deal,” Editorial Research Reports, 1935 (Vol. I), and B. W. Patch, “New Deal Aims and the Constitution,” Editorial Research Reports, 1936 (Vol. 2); both available at

[34] Petroski, op. cit., pp. 41–49.

[35] Ibid., p. 48.

[36] Donald Cohen, “The History of Privatization,” Talking Points Memo, 2016,

[37] Ibid.

[38] Richard Seymour, “A short history of privatisation in the UK: 1979–2012,” The Guardian, March 29, 2012,

[39] Robert Poole, “Ronald Reagan and the Privatization Revolution,” Reason Foundation, June 8, 2004,

[40] James Sterngold, “85% U.S. Stake in Conrail Sold for $1.6 Billion,” The New York Times, March 27, 1987,

[41] Cohen, “The History of Privatization,” op. cit.

[42] Poole, op. cit.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Moshe Schwartz and Joyprada Swain, “Department of Defense Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background and Analysis,” Congressional Research Service, May 13, 2011,

[45] “More Dollars Less Sense: Worsening Contracting Trends Under the Bush Administration,” U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Majority Staff, June 2007, p. i.

[46] Ibid.

[47] For background, see Martin Kady II, “Homeland Security,” CQ Researcher, Sept. 12, 2003, pp. 749–772; “TSA at a Glance,” Transportation Security Administration,

[48] Cohen, “The History of Privatization,” op. cit.

[49] Abigail Geiger, “U.S. private prison population has declined in recent years,” Pew Research Center, April 11, 2017,

[50] “Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration,” American Civil Liberties Union, November 2011,; “Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons,” Department of Justice, February 2001,; Brendan Fischer, “Violence, Abuse and Death at For-Profit Prisons: A GEO Group Rap Sheet,” PRWatch, Center for Media and Democracy, Sept. 26, 2013,

[51] Megan Mumford, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Ryan Nunn, “The economics of private prisons,” Brookings Institution, Oct. 20, 2016,

[52] Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone, “Prison Break: A New Approach to Public Cost and Safety,” The Independent Institute, June 2014,

[53] Eileen Sullivan, “Obama administration to end use of private prisons,” PBS News Hour, Aug. 18, 2016,

[54] Matthew Weigelt, “Obama official hits campaign trail to sell insourcing,” Washington Technology, Jan. 12, 2010,; Greg Jaffe, “Gates: Cuts in Pentagon bureaucracy needed to help maintain military force,” The Washington Post, May 2010,

[55] Ball, op. cit.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Patrick Gillespie, “Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure promise has an obstacle: His own budget cut,” CNN, June 9, 2017,

[59] Laris, op. cit.; O'Neal and Sirota, op. cit.

[60] Howard Fischer, “Arizona makes pitch for permission to privatize public rest stops,” Tucson. com, Nov. 3, 2017,

[61] Jodi Richards, “Los Angeles International uses private-public partnerships to build automated people mover and consolidated rental car facility,” Airport Improvement, May-June 2017,

[62] Todd Ziebarth, “State Legislative Session Highlights for Public Charter Schools,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, October 2017,

[63] Bruce Baker and Gary Miron, “The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit,” National Education Policy Center, Colorado University, December 2015,

[64] Karaim, op. cit.

[65] “2016 Annual Report,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, May 2017,

[66] Karaim, op. cit., p. 221.

[67] “U.S. Department of Education Awards $253 Million in Grants to Expand Charter Schools,” U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 28, 2017,

[68] “Awards,” Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 28, 2917, Ben Felder, “Feds send $16.5M to Oklahoma for charter schools,” NewsOK, Sept. 29, 2017,

[69] Joe Malinconico, “Charter school applications in Paterson rejected by New Jersey,”, Nov. 9, 2017,

[70] James Mulder, “NY rejects state's first ‘agri-based’ rural charter school in Cortland,”, Nov. 14, 2017,

[71] Karaim, op. cit., p. 231.

[72] Howard Blume and Shelby Grad, “Major changes could come to L.A. schools after charter school movement's big win,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2017,

[73] Howard Blume, “Agreement paves way for L.A. Unified to approve most old and new charter schools,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 7, 2017,

[74] Karaim, op. cit., p. 220.

[75] Valerie Strauss, “Why the movement to privatize public education is a very bad idea,” The Washington Post, July 14, 2016,

[76] Ibid.

[77] Geert de Lombaerde, “CoreCivic buys halfway houses in three states,” Nashville Post, Nov. 9, 2017,

[78] Christopher Ingram, “Private prison stocks collapse after Justice Department promises to phase them out,” The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2016.

[79] Heather Long, “Private prison stocks up 100% since Trump win,” CNN Money, Feb. 24, 2017,

[80] Joe Watson, “Report Finds Two-Thirds of Private Prison Contracts Include ‘Lockup Quotas,’” Prison Legal News, July 31, 2015,

[81] “How Private Prison Companies Increase Recidivism,” In the Public Interest, June 2016,

[82] Julie Hirschfield Davis, “Trump Backs Air Traffic Control Privatization,” The New York Times, June 5, 2017,

[83] Ibid.

[84] Sully Sullenberger, “Miracle on Hudson pilot: Don't privatize air traffic control,” USA Today, Oct. 18, 2017,

[85] Jacob Fischler, “Holding Pattern, A chairman's plan for air traffic control is still circling the House, unable to land,” CQ Weekly, Nov. 13, 2017.

[86] Bart Jansen, “Senate panel rejects air-traffic control privatization,” USA Today, July 25, 2017,

[87] David Savage, “Supreme Court poised to deal a sharp blow to unions for teachers and public employees,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 28, 2017,

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Karaim, R. (2017, December 8). Privatizing government services. CQ researcher, 27, 1017-1040. Retrieved from
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ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 08, 2017  Privatizing Government Services
Aug. 09, 1996  Privatizing Government Services
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