Nov 212017
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Global Development And Environment Institute
at Tufts University

Restoring Public Control of Public Goods:
Reconstruction, not “Deconstruction”

Conference October 2017

On October 5-7, researchers, policy makers, and activists gathered for a conference on “Restoring Public Control of Public Goods”, sponsored by GDAE and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF). The meeting began with a sharing of information about the nature and extent of government “deconstruction” and privatization. Participants generated ideas for policies and public messaging around the shared goal of reversing the momentum toward privatization and restoring government’s ability to put public interest before private profit.

Learn more about the conference and the Public Economy Project.

Rep. John Sarbanes gave a keynote on “democracy reform” and his efforts to rein in the indiscriminate outsourcing of government services to the private sector and to ensure that core government services are performed by public employees who take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution.
Dr. Michael A. Bernstein, Provost of Stony Brook University, discussed “Mainstream Economic Reasoning and the ‘Demonization’ of Government.” He argued that economic orthodoxy misleads students and mischaracterizes the manner in which markets actually operate. He stressed the importance of challenging prevailing paradigms, methodologies, and approaches to public policy issues.
June Sekera, GDAE Research Fellow, summarized the history of contracting federal government functions to private corporations, which has created a “crisis of public control”. She argued that “government-for-the-people” has been undermined by market advocates, and replaced with “government-for-private-profit-making.”
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Scott Amey, J.D., General Counsel at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), spoke about his research on outsourcing government functions, which found that “billions of dollars are wasted on hiring contractors.” The POGO study “Bad Business” found that contractors, on average, cost taxpayers almost twice what it would cost government workers to do the same job.
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Shar Habibi, Research and Policy Director at In The Public Interest, presented findings from a study revealing that much of the public supports “privatization” in concept, but that when people understand how the public loses control, their support decreases.
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Access Conference Web Page

Read two papers produced for the conference:


Outsourced Government – The Quiet Revolution: Examining the Extent of Government-by-Corporate-Contractor, June Sekera, Global Development and Environment Institute, September 2017

Freedom of Information Act (In)Applicability to Government Contractors, June Sekera, Global Development and Environment Institute, September 2017

See additional research from The Public Economy Project.


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