the private sector?
For example, regarding the first question, should the city be in the golf business? I think you could argue that perhaps not. However, most cities have public golf courses. So once you conclude that you do have golf courses, is there a need for city employees on those golf course or can there be private employees?
I have a small-government view. But as a practical matter, for everything except public safety, we're going to do activity-based costing by figuring out how much it costs us to do a year of service and then bid that out. I think with very few exceptions, virtually every aspect of government can fall in that category.
We've done 60 [outsources] so far, some little, some big. We've done little ones like printing microfilm. And by the time this interview is printed, we will have done probably the largest airport privatization in the country.
GT: What role does information technology play in Indianapolis' outsourcing?
Goldsmith: Let me back up for just a second into technology and then link them if I can. I was a district attorney for 11 years. We took our criminal justice system into what was reported to be the most sophisticated IT in the country. It used an integrated database of fourth generation languages when they were just coming out as a way to produce information from which government could run more efficiently. With the system, I collected child support and took our collections from $900,000 a year to $38 million a year - all through the application of information technology. This was very sophisticated for government procedures - from handling cases, to intercepting checks, to preparing court documents, and responding to the citizens.
I had, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, developed the first office in the country where every prosecutor had a computer on their desk. And remember, this was 10 years ago.
So I approached these competitive efforts as mayor understanding that technology, in many ways, was the edge in which productivity and efficiency could occur.
Now, there are a range of these issues, and some are informational. I have 4,000 electronic pen pals. Every police officer, every solid waste worker, every middle manager, can access me 24 hours a day through traditional e-mail.
Yet, e-mail wasn't really traditional when it started here. It was a bit unique for government and that is the source of new ideas.
The problem with reinventing business - and I'm an advocate of it- is that reinvention means outsourcing a service which shouldn't be done the way it's being done. And often, we fail to recognize how technology can enhance that service as either part of the bid or before. For example, hand-held computers change the way you process parking meters. Also, that can that be linked to the collection process. So we have tried to reengineer around technology both as a result of the competition and before the competition.
Technology has spread to e-mail and database mapping, to police officers on the road and wastewater treatment plants, and even to the outsourcing of a data center which is now up for bid. All of the real savings and quantity increases come from technology.
GT: How much reinvention can be done without information technology?
Goldsmith: You can do some things but you would only affect the margins. The big savings comes from better handling of information and better use of technology. Having the private sector do something the way the public sector does provides only marginal savings without the use of technology.