10 Contracting Rules of Thumb

As noted earlier in this primer, well-executed privatization can save money and improve the quality of services. Poorly executed privatization, on the other hand, can do just the opposite.

The previous section covered a number of technical issues that will help ensure that a district that has decided to privatize achieves a good result. But extensive experience in the private and public sectors over recent decades has pointed to broader guidelines for getting privatization right and avoiding common pitfalls.

This section reviews a number of these broader guidelines. While I have tried to include the most relevant and important contracting advice, I would encourage the reader to be open to further information. For example, district officials interested in contracting for school bus services should acquire the National School Transportation Association’s “School Transportation Outsourcing Tool Kit,” which is the single best “how-to” guide I know of for competitive contracting of school transportation services.[lvii] The kit also has a detailed “Request for Proposal” that should be very useful to the reader. Readers may also wish to consult the embedded links in the Web version of this primer.

The following 10 rules of thumb are by no means the last word in contracting practices, but they do represent a handy list of key points with which to begin the contracting process.

[lvii] “The School Transportation Outsourcing Tool Kit,” (Springfield, Virginia: National School Transportation Association, 1999).