Dec 22 2017
11:23 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL



United Campus Workers (via Facebook)

December 21, 2017

University of Tennessee-Knoxville-- Just a day before UTK employees recess for their holiday break, relieved that their university jobs are protected from Governor Haslam's radical outsourcing scheme, privatization rears its ugly head again. In a "breaking news" story by Rachel Ohm, "University of Tennessee system, Knoxville campus calculated different outsourcing savings," more number games are played by outsourcing's obsessed proponents, who now want UTK to pay.

The article says that the UT system projected a possible savings of $3.83 million annually. No data is provided whatsoever to explain that estimation, just as again and again the Office of Customer Focused Government, the multi-million dollar state office charged with ramming privatization through, strained to provide its own savings estimates. OCFG's estimates were moreover millions of dollars more than the UT system's, which were millions more than UTK's. These numbers are all projections, and both OCFG and now UT system numbers have no independent verification. What we know for sure is that UTK is efficiently performing high-quality, low-cost facilities services already, and that almost universally outsourcing leads to lower quality services, loss of accountability and specialization, and frequently higher costs as companies focus on their bottom line before all else.

The article says that UTK will now be expected to save the unverified UT system projection--completely in contradiction to the commitment that this was an independent decision by campuses, and for which there would be no retaliation.

Public budgeting should not be held hostage to the arbitrary and unverifiable claims of private sector companies and their allies seeking to privatize public goods for their own profit. This is both a dangerous and absurd principle that must be opposed; it does not represent official policy or law.

The article demonstrates that both UT President DiPietro and UT Board Vice Chair Raja Jubran went through extraordinary measures to involve themselves in the decision, including disparaging concerned employees and their advocacy. This was despite the pledge of independence to the campuses to determine what was best. Their new demand that campuses meet their own, separate projections of savings is an attack on that independence, and verifies the bad faith of this entire process.

While savings are demanded from our public colleges, none are demanded from the political operatives who concocted and then campaigned for the outsourcing scheme. Some estimates suggest the monthly cost of OCFG operations are as much as $150,000, and the cost of three part-time outsourcing consultants alone has been $612,000 annually. The governor's outsourcing scheme is thus one of the most expensive political price tags in this state--justified by the alleged need for savings.



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