Reason Foundation recently partnered with the Commonwealth Foundation to create a comprehensive report on opportunities to apply the “Yellow Pages test” in Pennsylvania entitled Privatizing “Yellow Pages” Government. The Yellow Pages test says that if a service can be found in the Yellow Pages of a phone book, government should consider buying it rather than using taxpayer dollars to hire and manage public employees in order to deliver it.
Pennsylvania is currently engaged in providing a wide range of Yellow Page services. While many Pennsylvania residents are aware of efforts to privatize Pennsylvania’s state-run liquor stores and to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Privatizing “Yellow Pages” Government examines some of the lesser-known government-run businesses (fitness centers, nursing homes, golf courses, hotels and zoos to name a few.)
Privatization is simply an approach that, like all policy tools, can be effective when used correctly and ineffective when used incorrectly. In well-structured privatization initiatives the government and taxpayers gain accountability they rarely have with public agencies. Privatization is a tool that can lead not only to cost savings, but improve service quality, enhance risk management, and result in greater innovation.
This report focuses on appropriate steps for Pennsylvania, and more broadly highlights case studies and lessons learned from privatization initiatives across the United States. For more, see the full report available online here.