The Savas Award for Privatization is given annually to a remarkable individual who is advancing innovative ways to improve the provision and quality of public services by engaging the private sector. From transforming education through vouchers and charter schools to slashing government spending with the help of private infrastructure investments, these visionary leaders are boldly launching a revolution that inspires entrepreneurs, activists, public officials, and others to reshape traditional public service delivery. 

The Savas Award is named for E. S. “Steve” Savas, who pioneered the concept of privatization. Dating back to 1971, his writing was the first to advocate private competition to improve public services. Savas’s theory was verified with successful applications both in the United States and abroad. While serving as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s assistant secretary under President Ronald Reagan, Savas’s promotion of housing vouchers became official policy. On the other side of the world, Ukrainian citizens and entrepreneurs saw improved bus service as a result of Savas’s recommendation to allow private bus operations in light of the widespread dissatisfaction with public offerings. Ever dedicated to service, Savas was the first deputy city administrator of New York City and is a current educator whose works have been translated into 21 foreign editions. His legacy embodies the innovation and radical hope of our award recipients.

Privatization has been central to Reason Foundation’s work for 50 years, when Reason Founder Robert W. Poole, Jr. began refining the concept. Poole published the groundbreaking book on municipal privatization, Cutting Back City Hall, in 1980, and his own research and outreach have been central to the success of privatization efforts nationwide.   

Previous recipients of the Savas Award include Task Force Pineapple co-founder Steve Mann, former Indiana governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, aerospace engineer and XPrize winner Burt Rutan, Success Academy Co-founder Eva Moskowitz, former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, and Alliance College-Ready Public Schools Co-founder Ambassador Frank Baxter.

The Savas Award is an annual opportunity to recognize extraordinary leadership in both the private and public sectors. Members of Reason’s Torchbearer Society receive an invitation to this exclusive event. To support the Savas Award and become a Reason Torchbearer, please click here