Over the past two weeks the thought of outsourcing certain services in Montgomery County and the Quakertown Community School District has garnered much attention.
Feedback from the public is vital in helping administrators make decisions; or, at least it should be. Public officials should be urged to listen and weigh the public’s concerns. Public opinion should be presented in a manner that won’t alienate officials and officials shouldn’t be turned off by passionate arguments. Instead, officials need to embrace the passion and the argument and consider both when rendering a decision.
Sometimes taxpayers become complacent with the way things are currently done and don’t look for a better way to accomplish the same goal until officials ponder the idea of somebody doing it cheaper. But cheaper isn’t always better and the service may even be inferior to that being performed by the in-house staff.
That doesn’t automatically mean that officials shouldn’t research the idea. After all, how will they know if they are getting the best service at the best price if they have nothing to compare.
Montgomery County officials issued a request for information last week to gather information on the most efficient and effective way to run Parkhouse.
Formerly known as the Montgomery County Geriatric and Rehabilitation Center, Parkhouse is a county-owned and operated nursing care and rehabilitation facility located near Royersford.
In Quakertown, school board officials have been contemplating subcontracting out positions within the food service and custodial departments. Residents attended and spoke out against the idea. Good for them; officials need your input.
In both cases, officials are doing due diligence in making sure that taxpayers are getting the best “bang for their buck.” They shouldn’t be criticized for doing their job. In order to understand and make decisions officials need to research and have like items to compare.
Officials must remember to keep the public informed every step of the way and listening to their comments is part of the research step because they may have input that officials won’t find in a book or on a piece of paper.
Another benefit of due diligence is providing department heads the incentive to take a deeper look into the way they currently operate their departments and search for ways to do a better job and provide better services at a competitive cost. It’s their opportunity to show why officials should keep the status quo.
There are definite advantages to having familiar faces on the job and that must count during the decision-making process.
Often, after comparisons are made, we find that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence and what we have really is the best product or service available. But how will we know if we don’t have anything to compare it with?
There is piece of mind in knowing that you have the best service available at the best price and that the decision wasn’t just made out-of-hand or by a willingness to accept the status quo, but by research, discussion, comparison and public input.