Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Infrastructure in the US

I thought this was a great passage from a piece by Stephen Smith:
"The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is spending $3.8 billion on a single subway station at the World Trade Center designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect known for his costly projects. If New York could build subways at the prices that Paris and Tokyo pay, $3.8 billion would be enough to build the entire Second Avenue subway, from Harlem to the Financial District. "

Smith lays part of the blame at excessive outsourcing.  I think there is a lot of truth to this.  One reason public managers rely on outsourcing as much as they do in the public sector is that they are trying to get around personnel restrictions: 1. the municpality/state/federal pay scale may not be competitive for certain fields (IT comes to mind); 2. it is much easier to fire contractors than civil servants (especially unionized civil servants).  The latter reason is unfortunate because when you pay for that flexibility the cost is very dear.

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