Making Democracy Work

Privatization of Government Services

Study Group on Privatization of Government Services

In November 2011 The League of Women Voters engaged in a study of the privatization of Government services. The purpose of this study was to identify parameters and policy issues to be considered in connection with proposals to transfer federal, state or local government services, assets and/or functions to the private sector. This study reviewed privatization goals and the community impact of such transfers, and identified strategies to ensure transparency, accountability, and preservation of the common good.

The San Jose/Santa Clara league joined in this national study of the privatization of government services, assets and functions and the impact that privatization will create on our local community. The LWVUS study committee provided a history and background of privatization, a glossary of terms, legal issues to be considered when privatizing at different levels of government, current state regulations on privatizing and case studies on successful and unsuccessful privatizing efforts. Finally, the committee provided suggested policies and parameters to be considered when privatizing. The Consensus Questions and articles prepared by the study committee are available at

We encouraged the public to participate in this study by contacting for more information.

LWVUS recommends the following readings as background:

1. Government Privatization: History, Examples, and Issues

2. Paul Starr, The Meaning of Privatization, Yale Law and Policy Review 6 (1988): 6-41.
3. Privatization: A Seattle League Study

Privatization Consensus Meeting

The consensus meeting of LWV-SJ/SC on the national study of privatization was held on Saturday, April 14th, from 9:30-12:00 at the home of Rod and Alice Thorn.

Privatization, the transfer of federal, state or local government services, assets and/or functions to the private sector, is a growing trend in the United States and well-entrenched elsewhere. The study committee will present an overview of the subject, covering the following areas.

Overview of the purpose, definitions and examples of privatization

History and background of privatization

Examples at the national level

Examples from LWVUS

Broad principles of our local governments on privatization

Example of a specific local privatization Core governmental services which might not be privatized

Best Practices in privatization

Following this overview, Brenda McHenry, Facilitator, guided us through the consensus questions with clarifications supplied by study committee members as necessary. A copy of the consensus questions are available below. <>. If that piques your curiosity for further reading, go to the Privatization page.