Critics question state plan to outsource college building maintenance
- A union of campus employees in Tennessee is questioning a plan to outsource more than 90% of maintenance work on public college campuses to private contractors, a move that Gov. Bill Haslam says could save $36 million from an annual $550 million budget line.
- Legislators and labor advocates point to previous privatization efforts in college motor vehicle pools and online testing modules, which they say have not yielded savings or have failed to deliver increased efficiency.
- The public requests for previous expenditures and procurement standards continue to add pressure to the governor's proposal, which would impact the state's three systems for public four-year and two-year institutions.
There is little that college leaders can do to influence state spending policy, particularly when driven by legislative actors in the name of financial solvency. However, campuses can best serve as the hubs for research and analysis of spending, along campus and state lines. By publishing economic impact studies and making the case for how colleges are unique in transferring workers to managers to potential executives with academic benefits, some measures like these can be amended or potentially thwarted.
Many campuses have outsourced functions like IT, in order to save money on benefits and peripheral costs for employees. But in doing so, schools run the risk of public scrutiny, protests from students who historically advocate for campus employee unions, and potential work stoppages if privatization efforts fail.
- Chattanooga Times Free Press Critics want cost-savings review before Tennessee outsources contracts