Contracting out the services that are provided by the state's motor pool would be a mistake for several reasons.

First and foremost, contracting out would mean destroying one of the most efficient and innovative services that the department provides to Oregon. A comprehensive 2002 study of the motor pool, conducted by Maximus Inc., a Maryland-based consultant, found that the fleet provides superb service in an extremely cost-effective manner.

The study also made a series of small suggestions to take the cost-effectiveness of the motor pool even further. The fleet already has implemented these recommendations, leading to even higher efficiency.

The motor pool has always provided services in a cost-effective manner and has shown that it is willing to consider changes to make it even more efficient. To replace it with private contractors would punish an example of the efficiency and innovation that Oregon should encourage in its agencies.

Considering the efficiency of the motor pool, it is not surprising that the supporters of contracting out have shown no evidence that the outsourcing will save the state money or improve services. In fact, the evidence suggests that contracting out will actually cost Oregon more than retaining the motor pool. The Maximus report, for example, shows that contracting out motor-pool services would cost taxpayers millions of dollars more a year.

While sale of the motor pool assets would provide a temporary increase in funding, the increased expenses from contracting out would rapidly consume this windfall. Since it would be prohibitively expensive to rebuild the fleet, Oregon taxpayers would be trapped into paying these high rates for many years to come.

In these times of tight budgets, contracting out the motor pool is a risk that Oregon cannot afford to take.

Rich Peppers is the assistant executive director for Service Employees International Union Local 503, in conjunction with the Oregon Public Employees Union. He lives in Northeast Portland.

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