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Pendulum swings


With the tide turning against competitive sourcing, it was just a matter of time until proponents of the private-public competitions got organized and got active. A coalition along those lines was launched yesterday. Called the Business Coalition for Fair Competition, the group aims to counter efforts by federal, state and local government agencies to provide products and services which are available from the private sector. BCFC accuses public agencies and organizations of engaging in unfair competition with private, for-profit companies.

"It is time the 'Yellow Pages Test' became national policy," said John M. Palatiello, president of the coalition. "If an activity is being performed by government or a non-profit that can otherwise be found from a business listed in the Yellow Pages, that activity should be reviewed for performance by a tax-paying, for-profit company, not a government-sponsored or subsidized entity."

Sens. John Thune, R-SD, and John Duncan, Jr., R-Tenn., speaking at the same Heritage Foundation session where Palatiello announced the launch of the coalition, said they have introduced legislation -- the Freedom from Government Competition Act -- to establish statutory process for evaluation government performance of commercially-available activities.

In a press release, Thune said the legislation would codify the "Yellow Pages Test" to ensure that products and services available in the commercial market are subject to competition. Thune then cited studies which show that taxpayers save as much as $28 billion annually as a result of these competitions.

Anndddd we're back to the debate again. People on both sides of this issue present numbers that "prove" their way saves taxpayers money. Until someone can come up with concrete, verifiable, unchallengeable numbers, the pendulum will continue to swing on competitive sourcing.

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