Colorado Springs Considers Outsourcing Street Sweeping

May 14, 2014

Screencapture via City of Colorado Springs.
Screencapture via City of Colorado Springs.

The City of Colorado Springs, Colo., which outsourced its fleet services beginning in January, is now considering outsourcing another city department — street sweeping.

With the move, the city hopes to save money and has begun evaluating six responses received earlier this month to a request for information. It owns 16 sweepers, and it is unclear whether the city's 12 sweeper operators would lose their jobs if the project moves forward, reports the Colorado Springs Independent.

Last year, the city signed a $35 million five-year agreement with Serco Inc., to provide fleet maintenance for the city and utilities beginning Jan. 1. The city expects to save more than $4 million by outsourcing fleet management.

Although the city continues its cost-cutting efforts through outsourcing, a study released in March by the Colorado Center for Policy Studies, located within the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, stated that outsourcing public services to private companies may do more harm than good.

The author of the study, Daphne Greenwood, stated that among other disadvantages, outsourcing to private companies may result in lower quality work due to the drive for profit and may not save as much in the long term. While average costs may be lower initially, savings often diminish over time because of reduced competition and other factors, according to the study.

The study also said outsourcing often results in lower wages and benefits for local workers, which takes money away from local economies. In the case of fleet outsourcing, however, all fleet employees who were hired by Serco were offered pay at or above their present pay, said Colorado Springs' chief of staff Laura Neumann.

Editor's note: Watch the following video for more information about the city's sweeping operations. Video is courtesy of Street Sweepers in Action from City of Colorado Springs on Vimeo.

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