In comparison to municipalities, states have been slow to implement privatization. In general, municipalities faced greater fiscal pressures in the 1980s than states, often due to the passage of tax increase-limiting measures such as Proposition 13 in California and Proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts. Nevertheless, some state-level privatization has occurred over the last decade. States embarking on privatization programs should carefully review the experiences of other states in order to learn from past mistakes and successes.

Experience in the United States and throughout the world has demonstrated the advantage of designating a single individual to oversee a government-wide privatization program. This individual, sometimes unofficially referred to as the "privatization czar," ensures that the privatization goals are systematically carried out. The privatization czar is also responsible for coordinating the privatization efforts of various state agencies and acting as executive liaison on privatization to the legislature.

The privatization czar must have wide authority to require reluctant bureaucracies to comply with the privatization program. Therefore, this role requires someone widely perceived as having the authority to speak directly for the governor or the legislature. Massachusetts Governor William Weld's program provides an instructive model. Up until he resigned from office in the summer of 1992, John Moffit, Governor Weld's chief of staff, headed up the governor's privatization programs. Moffit had worked alongside Weld for many years and his authority and commitment to carrying out the governor's program were unquestioned.


At the initial stages the governor or legislature should also bring together all interested parties, including key legislators, business leaders, public employee representatives, mid-level government managers, civil service professionals, and cabinet members to explain fully the goals and means of the privatization program.

Governor Weld, again, provides a useful model. Early in his administration, he brought together all cabinet secretaries and top officials from the various agencies of the Massachusetts government to participate in a "privatization summit" sponsored by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute. The message was clear: this was a top priority of the governor's, and he wanted the full support and cooperation of all his field lieutenants and the agencies they commanded. Furthermore, he made it known that he was prepared to highlight and champion the privatization activities of department heads.

The next step is to set up an advisory commission composed of individuals representing different relevant interests such as business, government agencies, taxpayer groups, public employees, the governor, and the legislature. The advisory group is usually charged with making policy recommendations on privatization, identifying privatization opportunities, and analyzing the different issues involved in privatization. Typically these committees hold public hearings on privatization in order to gain input from a variety of viewpoints. By bringing in different interest groups from the outset, fierce battles may be avoided or at least constrained.


Critically important to the ultimate success of the privatization program is to fashion strategies to gain widespread public support. A comprehensive public education campaign is necessary to convey to the public all the issues involved in privatization and rebut any misleading and false statements that may surface.

Private-sector coalitions that will actively support the privatization program should also be brought together. The business community should be made aware of the opportunities privatization creates and its positive impact on the financial health of state government. Coalitions of business and taxpayer groups, in turn, can generate pressure on state lawmakers to back privatization.