State government outsourcing hearings scheduled this summer

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s an issue that has sparked a letter signed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging the administration to slow down the process.

“The whole concept has sort of lost credibility with me,” said Senator Steve Dickerson who was among those signing the letter.

Dickerson told News 2 he once thought it would save taxpayers money by outsourcing thousands of state jobs to the private sector for things like overseeing state building maintenance, managing state university facilities or running state parks, but now the senator is at odds with the concept.

Saving tax dollars with outsourcing to profit-minded companies who would still protect current state workers does not add up for the senator.

“I just don’t know how the math works that the state saves money and our employees are held harmless,” he said citing the profit motive is now added into a pie with things like jobs, salaries and benefits as some of the ingredients.

The senator is not alone in the outsourcing skepticism.

In a recent letter to the Haslam Administration, signed by nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly, outsourcing concerns were outlined.

(Photo: WKRN)

“Our reservations include the potential impact to state employees, the scope of ‘vested outsourcing’ to state services, and allowing enough time to address concerns from the General Assembly,” said the letter.

“We would appreciate them putting the brake on this slowing down a touch on this and letting us vet it a little more thoroughly and then hopefully moving forward with some consensus,” added Sen. Dickerson.

He hopes that consensus can be accomplished in a Senate subcommittee hearing he would chair this summer.

Governor Haslam defends the most recent outsourcing of state university facilities management that was signed just last month.

“And remember on this– particularly on the universities, they all get their own choice about whether they do it or not.” the governor said earlier this week. “We are saying here is an alternative. Here is the current cost. Here is what they say they can do it for and everybody keeps their job.”

Expect that kind of debate when the hearings take place up here later this summer.

Senator Dickerson hopes those hearing lay the foundation for legislation to be introduced next year that will give lawmakers more authority on outsourcing.