David Stokes

The Show-Me Institute has released a comprehensive project about privatization efforts in Missouri. This project documents the wide variety of ways in which counties, cities, and towns can engage the private sector to provide many public services. We also discuss the many public service areas where privatization is appropriate and potentially beneficial, along with the areas it is not. The study provides city officials, administrators, and interested citizens with examples of where, how, and why privatization can be expanded in their communities. The documents made available here are part of that effort.

Government privatization refers to the practice of providing what are commonly considered public services via the private sector. In these cases, the public service is provided either directly by a private firm (or multiple private firms), or indirectly through private firm management of government-owned operations (i.e., outsourcing). There are numerous ways private management of government operations can be arranged. Privatization, when done properly, can increase efficiency and expertise, provide additional services to the public, and decrease costs for taxpayers.

In 2003, the Missouri Legislature created a subcommittee on Competition and Privatization that issued a final report in December 2004. The subcommittee’s work was promising, and its goals were inspiring. Unfortunately, the final results of the project were ultimately disappointing and few of its recommendations were implemented. However, there are valuable parts to the report that document how Missouri has used private entities for many information technology (IT), data entry, and other service-related state government needs. For the first time, that report is available online at Showmesunshine.org.

We also have included several examples of contracts and proposal requests between local governments and private sector partners. If there are local officials in Missouri who wish to look further into privatization but do not know the legal requirements, we hope that these examples of existing contracts and proposals can be of assistance. These contracts include examples from the City of Saint Louis, Kansas City, Cameron, Jackson County, Chillicothe, and Wentzville.

Other documents we have made available online here include:

  • A 2007 memorandum from the City of Florissant documenting how it used the funds from the 2002 sale of its municipal water utility.
  • A 2004 memorandum from Milwaukee County, Wis., detailing that county’s privatization efforts from 1995 to 2004.
  • A 2004 report from Stephen Witte with the Missouri Legislative Academy on the issues regarding toll roads in Missouri.
  • A 1996 report from the Missouri Council on Efficient Operations discussing various ways to make state government more effective.

The Show-Me Institute’s privatization project is dedicated to expanding the use of privatization in Missouri state and local governments. That effort is ongoing. Missourians can use this information to monitor state government and their local governments as a way to encourage privatization efforts when possible. We also hope the documents listed here will assist local government officials who may be considering privatization efforts. Being active in government and monitoring its services can be difficult. This tool makes it a little easier.


Contracts and proposal requests between local governments and private sector partners:


About the Author

David Stokes
David Stokes was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute from 2007 to 2014 and was director of development from 2014 to 2016.