Bush pushes e-government, privatization

ksaldarini@govexec.com

Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush is working on a proposal to streamline the federal government through technology and through increased privatization of federal programs.

The plan is being developed by a team that includes former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and William Eggers, former director of the privatization program at the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles think tank, according to a report in The Washington Times Thursday.

Although the proposal is still under development, Bush advisers told the Times that it would rely heavily on delivering federal services electronically and with fewer people. They said personnel reductions described in the proposal would be achieved through attrition, not job cuts.

Goldsmith is a longtime advocate of public-private competition as a means of improving government services. In Indianapolis, he launched competitions for such city services as street sweeping, trash collection and waste water operations, and claims savings of nearly $400 million in his seven years in office by making public workers defend their jobs against private companies.

In March, Goldsmith offered his views on electronic government during a lecture sponsored by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

"I would suggest that governments generally, the federal government in particular, need to totally reconsider the outdated structure of government," said Goldsmith.

Technology will drive a "highly-tailored, highly efficient and more cost-effective government," he added.

Despite his extensive experience and expertise in privatization, Eggers told GovExec.com he was not the appropriate person to speak with regarding the privatization aspect of the proposal and referred all calls to the Bush campaign press office. The press office did not return a phone call Thursday afternoon.

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