Springfield and exit strategies

No, this post isn’t about how people can strategize a means to move out of Springfield.

It’s about the idea that Springfield might need (and continue) to strategize ways to get out of its own services or subsidies. Civic Strategies consultant Otis White, citing management theorist Peter Drucker in his October 15 E-Letter, writes about the need for local governments to put every operation and activity "on trial for its life every two or three years." From White’s piece:

Every city offers services and subsidies that, if it had to do over again, wouldn’t. Maybe the service made sense in earlier years but doesn’t now. Maybe it’s still a good service but local government isn’t the right provider. Or maybe it was always a lousy idea but was accompanied by very persuasive advocates. How does a local government shed itself of these losers?

Local officials will tell you it’s not so easy. Services and subsidies build constituencies that, over time, become skilled at guarding their slice of the budget. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for inaction; in fact, it’s an argument for systematically placing all services and subsidies on trial. After all, the antidote for special interests is principled decision making.

Privatizing services is unpopular, but this idea of putting services to the test has not been done in this city for a long, long time.

Author: Heather Brandon

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