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Asset Management: Privatization of Public Works Departments Debate

Recently, the role of government seems to be shifting from an entity that provides services to an entity that brokers services.  Every day, governments become more reliant on other organizations to provide services.  This shift is especially apparent in many cities whose public works departments have turned to road privatization.  As with any change, this one is not happening without a lot of debate.

People on both sides of this debate have presented compelling arguments about this issue.  People who are opposed to road privatization, for example, claim that governments lose control when they privatize.  They worry that private companies will prioritize their profits over the need for well-designed areas that have an adequate number of traffic safety products.  Supporters of road privatization present interesting counter arguments.  They claim that the public works departments will not lose control of these areas; instead, by mandating the standards in each area, government entities maintain control while outsourcing the labor.  

Another argument that surrounds this issue is one that concerns the job security of public employees.  People who are uncomfortable with road privatization claim that it will take away jobs from city employees.  They feel that government jobs are more secure for these people.  In response, the side that is pro-privatization claims that although there will be a shift in employers, there will be no lost jobs.  They claim that private contractors will need to hire just as many laborers, and that jobs in the private sector are more likely to provide these workers with the potential for promotions and better pay.  In addition, they argue that when the government buys traffic safety products from private companies, it promotes local industries and actually helps to create jobs.

The road privatization issue will continue to spark debates until enough evidence exists to give communities a solid sense of how well or how poorly this works.  As more and more public works departments turn to private companies to run their toll roads and design their construction projects, citizens will get a better idea of which system they prefer.  Until there is exhaustive evidence to prove which side of the debate will win out, it is important that there is cooperation between private and public sectors.