Saturday, September 24, 2011

Controlling Contracting

The WSJ is reporting that the city council is considering legislation to rein in outsourcing of city services through independent contractors: "The City Council is expected to approve legislation aimed at reining in the billions of taxpayer dollars that are spent annually on outside contracts, a move that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration contends will increase government inefficiency and bureaucracy."

That's a real backslapper! All of a sudden the mayor is interested in increasing government efficiency after ten years of larding up the public payroll? No friends this is all about control and the ability to award contracts and have the contractors beholden to-well, the mayor, of course.

Here's the mayoral spokesman's comical turn of a phrase: "Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, said the administration has "worked hard to reduce the cost and inefficiency of government by streamlining bureaucracy and cutting red tape." He said the bill "not only adds to those requirements, but erects barriers and limits commissioners' discretion to get services as quickly and efficiently as possible."

This is all Kabuki theater because-in a plague on both your houses fashion-the mayor and the council are twin culprits in the growth of government. The council's move is really to insure that more services are performed by the elite corps of unionized public servants that are known for their efficiency-not to mention crippling pension and benefit costs.

What neither Speaker Quinn nor the mayor are inclined to do is reduce the size and scope of this ever expanding and useless government edifice-the real culprit for the fact that NYC ranks at the top of the list as one of the worst places in the entire country to do business. These two are simply quibbling over the manner in which the tax payers are to be fleeced.

But if the council is really serious about containing outsourcing it might profit from taking a long hard look at the out of control NYC EDC-a "quasi-governmental" agency that runs amok without any supervision. As the NY Daily News reported last year:

"The agency that collects rent on city property failed to turn over millions to the city - but still managed to spend big bucks on extravagant travel.

The Economic Development Corp. paid for luxury hotels in China, London, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and Washington, expenses from January 2008 through April show.

The records show that EDC operates under looser travel rules than city employees, who are supposed to fly coach, stay in economy hotels and limit how much they spend on food and drink

And the same cavalier attitude applies to the agency's contracting-where they let contracts out without competitive bidding. Who decides? Who sets the rates? Who cares? We have seen what this attitude brings when it comes to the incestuous relationship between EDC and the environmental firm AKRF-phony data proffered with no accountability. AKRF is chastised for a bad data submission to state DOT by being awarded more money to clean up its filthy act.

So let's not get misdirected by the council's actions here-it's Quinn tip toeing past her Bloomberg loving past to try to curry union support for 2013. The only thing missing is a truth in advertising provision. What we need are elected officials who understand that the NYC Leviathan is the problem-the current crop couldn't understand this without a frontal lobotomy.