Promoted by Jason Springer: We’ve had some posts about the privatization proposals and here’s Bill Orr’s take.
The NJ PrivatizationTask Force Final Report is superficial, sloppy and biased. As a Business Plan it is an abject failure because it provides no support for its many claims. A venture capitalist, university professor, or CEO would grade it as “C” as in crap, “I” as in incomplete, and “U” as in useless. A governor reading such a report should provide similar grades, unless it happens that he agrees with the conclusions and is willing to ignore the lack of quantifiable substantiation.
In the introductory section the report pays lip service to such goals as quality, timeliness, risk management, expertise, and innovation. However, in discussing potential targets for privatization it generally fails to mention such goals. For many targets it states a specific cost saving but provides little or no basis to justify the claim.
For example, the report recommends four activities of the Department of Corrections for privatization and lists the anticipated cost savings:
Inmate Medical Services ($6.9 million) The recommendation vaguely states, “Through a combination of privatization and changes in the delivery and management of inmate medical services the state should realize a 15% saving.” The basis provided for such savings is the plan to introduce a wellness program (vaccines, health tests, etc.) which experts agree improves healthcare but does not necessarily reduce costs. Biases are introduced into the report with two statements: 1) the fact that there is an opportunity now to privatize because the provisions of an inmate healthcare law suit have just expired, and 2) “NJ is generally considered to provide quite generous medical services in its correctional facilities.” This significant change is presented in a few paragraphs with unsupported generalizations and no evidence any homework was done.
Prison Food Services ($6.8 million) With a current cost of 3 meals per day at $8.18 per inmate the report concludes that costs can be reduced to $6.00 per day because Kansas recently privatized its food service and realized a 25% savings. Such a statement is fatuous with no further explanation or footnotes. Also do we really think $6.00 per day is sufficient for acceptable food?
Food Distribution Network (TBD) The only explanation for this change is that the state’s system is outdated and that all but three states have privatized the delivery. There is no explanation as to why the system is outdated, what system would supplant it, or what the cost savings might be.
Inmate High School Education & GED Program ($2.7 million) The recommendation is: “It is difficult to ascertain what the savings would be. That said, based on a 10 to 25 percent range of expected savings, the state should expect to save anywhere from $2.75 million to $7.13 million annually.” There appears to be no due diligence or homework done on the matter, so we are provided a “guesstimate,” with no other benefit stated.
The report is an embarrassment and no basis on which to make important decisions.