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VOL. 39 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 18, 2015

Haslam: No 'bias' toward outsourcing building management

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam insisted Thursday that he has no "bias" toward privatizing state government activities.

Haslam told reporters that any decision is still months away on whether to proceed with outsourcing building management at the state's colleges and universities, prisons, armories or parks. Haslam said his aim is simply to find ways to save money, and that criticism of his administration exploring outsourcing is misplaced.

"Everybody thinks, well, Haslam has some bias toward privatizing. I really don't," he said. "My only bias is how are we going to run this the very best we can for the very lowest amount of money."

In some recent instances, the state has moved to take over some areas that had previously been outsourced, Haslam said. For example, the Transportation Department recently moved some engineering functions back in house, and the Tourism Department has stopped outsourcing some marketing activities.

A team of seven staffers and contractors are working on outsourcing scenarios in an office of Haslam's administration called Strategies for Efficiency in Real Estate Management. They carry titles like director of facilities management outsourcing and director for alternative workplace solutions.

But the existence of that office doesn't mean the plans will necessarily move forward, Haslam said.

"Everybody thinks we've made a decision or we're going to make a decision in the next few weeks," he said. "We're not."

WTVF-TV in Nashville this week published government documents about outsourcing plans. They included a report that warned that outsourcing at state colleges could undermine Haslam's signature "Drive to 55" initiative to improve graduation rates in Tennessee.

The report says the state could save money by reducing office space in higher education through greater use of telecommuting and temporary offices. But that could hurt efforts to boost the number of students graduating from college because "data indicates student success is correlated with level of student engagement with faculty and staff members," according to the document.

Haslam on Thursday said the concerns raised in the report "proves our point" that the administration wants to examine all the potential consequences before proceeding.

"I want people who are saying, when we're making these big decisions we're looking at all the pros and all the cons and weighing all the data to make the very best decision," he said.

Haslam said cost-cutting is a worthy goal at public colleges as tools for keeping tuition hikes in check.

"When tuition goes up at the universities and parents are saying I can't take it, you all come here and stick microphones in my face and say what are going to do about it?" Haslam said.

The alternative is allowing wasteful spending to occur, he said.

"You ought to want us to be doing what we're doing," Haslam said.

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TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0