Managing Competition

Managing Competition As A Principle For Effective State Governance:
The Quest Of The Free Venture Program

There’s nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the old system and merely lukewarm defenders of those who would gain by the new one.

The Prince, by Machiavelli

The USA government begins with a strong belief in individualism as Alexis de Tocqueville noted: man is responsible for himself. Individualism is free choice and social responsibility. It is by way of competition that we appreciate individual freedom. We encourage competition in school and sports– to the best goes the spoils. Competition is the driving force of excellence! The quest for government is to manage competition so that it is profitable and produces quantifiable results. The re-invention of government principles (Gaebler and Osborne, 1992) and enactment of the Republican Contract With America (1995) have focused policymakers attention on taxpayer relief, balancing the budget by 2002, eliminating “welfare” and putting people to work, and getting “tough-on-crime.” Re-invention concepts have ushered in privatization as one viable solution to helping an entrenched bureaucracy evolve towards effectiveness and efficiency.

During the 1990’s, the author researched, organized and consulted policy-makers regarding privatization (or ventures) as a viable alternative to reducing and eliminating wastes in government. The Free Venture model creates a new system of public-private interaction that reduces the cumbersome and costly way justice is administered in the USA. The reaction to uses the private sector, has been fear on the part of the bureaucracy. More than anything else, government employees view the private sector as a competitor that will take over government operations. These fears must be addressed. Improved governance– the way bureaucracies are structured to administer services to the public– mean the re-invigoration of democracy. For example, problems facing the administration of justice system are rapid social change and high costs. Youth crime in the USA is up by 4%. There is a 14% increase in young adult offenders committing rapes, and homicide is up 9%. In California, there are more than 250,000 youth per year under care and/or supervision by local and state corrections. Furthermore, the ethnicity of the corrections’ population is 80% minority: African-American, Latino (Hispanic) and Asian. The reaction to these factors are expectations of designing a competitive system that produces customer satisfaction (public) and a reduction in cost of agency operation.

This paper will present some of the controversial issues surrounding privatization. There are many challenges facing bureaucracies forming public-private partnerships. The Free Venture program enables us to identify and, perhaps, eliminate some barriers to privatization because this model forces a reduction in bureaucratic “status quo,” as it aims to provide the highest level of post-employment preparation services to young adult offenders.

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