N.H. Sea Change Includes Privatization

From the Concord Monitor: To save money and make New Hampshire’s government more efficient, a new committee is recommending a range of dramatic changes, including privatizing the state prison system, scrapping the state nursery and cutting state personnel by 5 percent. Among the commission’s list of big dollar savings is a proposal to outsource management of the state prison system to a private company. According to the commission’s report, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections oversees operations in four state prisons, three halfway houses, the Secure Psychiatric Unit and the Division of Field Services. About 10,000 offenders reside in those facilities. The commission’s findings indicate that a private company could increase parolee compliance and reduce the daily cost of housing and feeding inmates. A private company could also send prisoners to out-of-state facilities, a move that the report says would reduce crowding in New Hampshire buildings. Privatizing the prison system would save an estimated $94 million over five years, according to the report. The commission’s other proposed changes include: A 5 percent cut in state personnel. The reduction would be achieved, the report indicates, through attrition and retirements. The cut, which includes the money saved through the 10 percent health premium payments, would net an estimated $162 million over five years. Implementing a vehicle-share program for state cars, saving $3.7 million over five years. Designing and implementing an audit and inventory system for state facilities and updating the assessments of all state properties, saving $12.3 million over five years. Consolidating the office space and administrative functions of the smaller licensing boards within the Department of Health and Human Services, saving $2.6 million. Opening a new liquor store on Interstate 93 in Salem and promoting a more businesslike operation of the state Liquor Commission, saving $45 million over five years. Closing the state nursery and reallocating its 888 acres for other state use, saving $708,000.