For-profit companies are eyeing control of public services and government contracts ranging from prison privatization to school management. Often, it happens with very little public oversight. A 2012 report by In the Public Interest, demonstrates the real world consequences of privatization on government transparency. It highlights numerous instances of private contractors circumventing open records and sunshine laws as state and local governments push to privatize public services.
A good example in Florida shows the impact the Jeb Bush Foundation has had on public education. The report unearthed emails that uncovered for-profit companies that worked through the nonprofit Foundation for Excellence in Education to influence lawmakers to create new educatin policies and pass laws that would be friendly to the companies' business interests.
The emails between the companies and the foundation show the group promoting online education policies and model bills and making connections to policymakers for its financial supporters, which include such companies as Amplify, Charter Schools USA, K12 Inc., McGraw-Hill Education, Microsoft, and Pearson Education.
A well-functioning democracy relies on the public having honest answers to key questions. Privatization should not make this information more difficult for the public to obtain.
The more we privatize, the less we know and the less control we have over our public services. Stronger open records laws are the right step towards maintaining that control. The taxpayers need access to information about pending contracts to adequately provide meaningful stakeholder input before the contract is finalized....