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Mayor reveals managed competition details

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The day after his ballot measures aimed at fiscal reform won strong support from San Diego voters, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced his plan to start implementing some changes as soon as this week.

Tuesday night, voters approved Proposition B, which allows the public to weigh in on any new benefits for city employees, and Proposition C, which permits the city to contract out certain services. Sanders said Wednesday he wants to start implementing the more controversial of the two proposals, Proposition C, as soon as this week.

“I will move immediately to implement the will of the voters because I think what they did (Tuesday), the percentages by which these two measures won, is nothing short of a mandate for fundamental change at City Hall,” Sanders said.

Beginning Thursday, the city will begin training on aspects of “managed competition,” in which private companies and public sector services each can bid on certain city services. This includes learning to use COMPARE software, a program designed to compare bids. Sanders said members of organized labor, who fought Proposition C, will be included in the process.

This week, the hunt will begin for a consultant to assist the city in preparing Statements of Work for services the city wants open for competition. Though Sanders still has not indicated which services might be up for bid, he said those most likely subjected to managed competition are: solid waste collections and disposal; fleet maintenance; street pavement maintenance; plan check; recyclables collections and processing; print shop; custodial services and grounds maintenance.

The city also will begin nominating candidates for the Independent Review Board (IRB), which would assess city contracts and attempt to root out corruption. Sanders said he wants the board confirmed by early 2007.

In preparation for managed competition, each city department will go through the Business Process Re-engineering process that several have already undergone. This will help departments to see where they can make cuts and consolidate certain staff and practices. Following “BPR,” as its known, the mayor’s staff will determine which services should be outsourced. The finding will be put in a memo to the IRB. The IRB will then develop a scope of work and issue a request for proposal to both the city service affected and outside contractors. The mayor’s staff will use the COMPARE software to price a Most Efficient Operation standard for each division, based on the BPR.

The IRB will receive and process all bids and then make recommendations to the mayor and City Council. If an independent contractor wins a bid, the contract will be for only one year.

After its campaign to stop Proposition C failed during Tuesday night’s election, the Center on Policy Initiatives, a pro-union group, said it still planned to be at the table to discuss implementation, along with the unions and several City Council members who were against managed competition. City Attorney Michael Aguirre said the unions are welcome to discuss certain details of the implementation, but there will be no “meet and confer process,” in which details are changed, since the voters have spoken.

Opponents of Proposition C have said they worry the jobs will now go to the lowest bidder, and those contractors might not pay their employees well or provide health care. All contracts will be subject to San Diego’s living-wage standards in which some health care options are provided.

“In a competition, it’s really about how you provide the most effective service to the public in the cheapest way,” Sanders said. “I’m not sure that the city’s role is to provide the best employment in the city of San Diego. I think our role is to provide … the best services at the cheapest cost to the taxpayers.”

Sanders said he spoke to Councilmen Ben Hueso and Tony Young, who both campaigned against Proposition C, and hopes they can work together on the implementation. He also made it clear, however, he will not relent too much.

“Once the electorate speaks, all of us have an obligation to acknowledge what has been put forward as the will of the people,” he said.

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