A report presented Wednesday to the San Diego City Council’s Budget Committee finds the voter-approved competitive bidding process known as “managed competition” flawed, cumbersome and needing to be reformed.
The study is the last of five by a group led by former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith that looked into improving efficiencies in various municipal functions.
The managed competition process can be beneficial to the city and employees but became unwieldy and contentious, limiting any potential good, the report says.
The city began taking bids on various functions in 2010 and saved $9 million annually in publishing, street sweeping and other areas. However, it drew opposition from organized labor and was suspended by ex-Mayor Bob Filner.
Current Mayor Kevin Faulconer, perhaps the top supporter of managed competition when he was a City Council member, wants to revive the process.
Among Goldsmith’s findings:
- a reliance on managed competition has limited the implementation of other reform tools;
- a “robust flow of efficiency and effectiveness innovations” from the private sector has been stymied with municipal employees winning all the bids so far;
- project scopes were flawed;
- the integrity of the process was compromised by a lack of reliable data;
- employees had no financial incentives; and
- debate over the program has focused on who loses, not on creating win-win opportunities.
Among his two dozen recommendations are to form a more effective partnership between the city and organized labor; streamline the process so it includes fewer steps to complete; create a financial “upside” for affected employees; and make managed competition a part of an overall efficiency/quality/innovation initiative.
“It is my hope this study will pave a path forward to reform our managed competition program and to look at other ways to streamline and improve city processes while generating savings that can be reinvested in neighborhood services,” said City Council President Todd Gloria.
He said the report gives the council a roadmap to make the city a model for innovation.
Last week, Faulconer proposed establishing rewards for employees who come forward with ideas for saving money and improving services. He supports Goldsmith’s recommendations.
Gloria said he backs Faulconer’s plan and is “committed to cultivating efficiencies and moving forward with appropriate fiscal reforms beyond managed competition. We should continue to work together to implement other innovations and reforms that achieve cost savings.”
The committee voted unanimously to forward the report to the full City Council.
— City News Service
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