Hey, you gotta take every opportunity to screw public workers when you can, right? But in the end, it's all about the Benjamins:The Division of Purchase and Property in the Treasury Department has just issued a Request for Proposals on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection. The goal is to find “a contractor to assist the Division of Land Use Regulation… in a variety of tasks to meet its obligations and responsibilities to provide timely reviews and decisions on incoming applications, and appeals to those decisions.”This RFP raises some very troubling questions. Is DEP quietly trying to expand the privatization of its permitting responsibilities? If so, why is there no public debate? Where are the safeguards that should make the public comfortable that these private contractors will be properly screened and supervised? Or is this merely an end-run around civil service requirements and union contracts, so DEP can replace those pesky employees who often say "No" with more sympathetic contract permit reviewers?
Private auto inspection, private charter schools, private regulators... Runaway privatization of the government; where have I seen this movie before?There's also the issue of money. The RFP indicates that “funding to allow the contractor to review 5 to 10 percent of the expected number of permits is anticipated” and that “the contract term will be five (5) years with three (3) optional one (1) year extensions."The RFP further states that “an annual amount equal to $200,000 to $600,000 is expected to be available in the fiscal year 2011 budget… for the purpose of funding this contract. Thereafter, annual funding will be sought but can not be guaranteed.” I have to wonder, if DEP has and expects such substantial funds, why doesn't the agency just hire and retain more of its own staff, rather than replace them with consultants whose loyalties may be uncertain?