Sharp Increase in Contracting Out City Work is Cause for Concern

The City has been significantly increasing its use of contractors for projects instead of hiring or using existing city work force to do the job. In fact, money spent in 4 city departments (PUC, SFO, MTA and SFPW) on contracting out has increased from $333,952,000 in FY 2013-2014 to a whopping $1,959,128,000 in FY 2015-2016.

Local 21 members are deeply concerned over this new dependence on outside consultants for a variety of reasons. In most cases, consultants are paid at a higher rate and cost the taxpayers more money then using city resources.

In contrast, using city workers to complete these projects would be an investment in the future that would also control upfront and ongoing costs. City workers would gain experience and skills that they would use for future projects. They would also be an ongoing resource to efficiently and effectively maintain the projects they worked on from the beginning.

Another concern is that the city is at the tipping point of an institutional knowledge cliff.  32% of Local 21 members working for the city will be eligible for retirement within 5 years. With the retirement of veteran staff, institutional knowledge that cannot be replaced is also retired. Currently the city has no knowledge transfer plan and simply hires back many of these retirees through Proposition F. Rather than resorting to Prop F hires, the City needs to focus on work force development to fill existing vacancies with new hires. Hiring new workers who can meet the needs of a complex and growing city like San Francisco should be a goal for everyone. Simply put: a great city deserves great professionals on staff to keep it running.

Local 21 Representative/Organizer Paul Kim works with many of the members affected by contracting out in their departments, “Local 21 is looking forward to working with City management to find reasonable solutions to stem the dramatic increase in contracting out work.”
Be on the lookout for follow-ups on this important topic in the future!