Little noticed in the enthusiasm for a federal stimulus, and President-elect Obama’s pledge to create 2.5 million jobs over two years, is that most of these jobs are likely to be government jobs. Obama has already said infrastructure spending will be a core component of the stimulus, and most of that spending will be through state and local governments to pay for projects on their ever growing wish list. A detailed list was provided by the US Conference of Mayors in their third survey of cities as part of their “Ready to Go” series. The U.S. Conference of Mayors provides a detailed, city-by-city list of 15,221 local infrastructure projects worth $96.6 billion in spending that the cities claim will “create” 1.2 million jobs. Unless these cities have rigorous competitive bidding programs, these jobs will be city government jobs, implying a massive expansion of local government. As Len Gilroy, Reason Foundation’s director of government reform notes, it’s all the more critical to make sure competitive bidding, outsourcing, and privatization are key elements of any local government “best practices” management program for public services. An excellent overview of public sector policymakers putting these ideas into action can be found in Len’s more recent Innovators in Action.
Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.