Privatizing Public Services

Archive Report

The Privatization Trend

Businesses Filling Government Functions

The word “privatization” may be difficult to find in a dictionary, but it is well known to thousands of public officials. It refers to businesses or individuals doing a job for government that, quite likely, the government itself performed in the past. In keeping with President Reagan's philosophy of reducing “big government,” privatization is being pushed from Washington. It is being touted as efficient and cost-effective, and sometimes assailed as being profit-minded at the expense of people who are being served.

Although the word is of relatively recent coinage, the concept of privatization is not. Some goods and services in such “public” areas as health, human services, public safety and transportation have long been provided by the private sector. The ...

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