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Do I hear $75,000? $65,000 plus benefits?

QuickPoint!

Competitive bidding has been successfully employed around the world to help reduce the cost of government services and improve their quality. Competitive bidding could help reduce government payroll costs.

Jerry Yudelson wrote about this idea many years ago in The Daily Journal of Commerce. He developed the idea while observing the Portland School Board and its process for choosing a replacement for the then-retiring superintendent.

Matthew Prophet had run the Portland School system for over ten years. His salary was $135,000-not including generous fringe benefits and retirement plan. His replacement would come from qualified candidates, and the person chosen by the board would negotiate his own compensation package.

Yudelson thought public agencies could put their high paying jobs out for bid. Qualified finalists would bid for them-lowest bidders would win. Yudelson figured many qualified people would compete for Oregon’s high-level public service jobs, and would propose and accept a decent salary in exchange for the benefits of a Northwest life.

An outcry of protest accompanied the recent hiring of a new Multnomah County library director, who hailed from Washington, DC. Her $138,000 salary exceeds the previous director’s salary by $33,000 (generous benefits not included), a 27 percent jump. This salary increase was given during a sour economy, county budget cuts, and when residents were pushed to pay higher taxes. Competitive bidding could have produced a qualified candidate at a lower cost to taxpayers.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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