Privatization in Massachusetts: Getting Results Robinson and Wilson, Mark and Steve

When Massachusetts Governor William Weld (R) took office in January 1991, he set about attacking his state's fiscal problems by implementing an ambitious privatization program. At the core of his governing philosophy is the belief that privatization is an essential strategy for reinventing state government, reducing its costs and improving the quality of its services.

In two years, the Weld administration's efforts have saved state taxpayers over $273 million by contracting out or privatizing services ranging from health care to highway maintenance. Yet, late in its 1993 legislative session, the Democrat-controlled General Court, at the behest of the state's public sector unions, rallied behind a bill, SB 1664, introduced by Senator Marc Pacheco (D) that would impose further regulations inhibiting the governor's privatization efforts.

To combat SB 1664, the Commonwealth's Executive Office for Administration and Finance released "Privatization in Massachusetts: Getting Results," authored by John Robinson and Steve Wilson. The white paper provides an in-depth look at general privatization issues, the results of specific administration contracting out efforts and a rebuttal to the arguments of privatization opponents which merit the attention of public administrators across the country.

Despite administration efforts, the Pacheco bill was passed over the governor's veto, becoming law in January 1994. Nevertheless, as indicated in the report's appendix, the government will continue to aggressively pursue its privatization policy. While instructing government agencies to comply with the law, the administration has filed with the legislature for several changes in the statute, and Weld is considering challenging the validity of the law on constitutional grounds.