in Houston, Texas
Texas A&M presses on with privatization plan, estimates savings at $260 million
Sunday, Jul 29, 2012, 09:37AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

If this keeps up, Barack Obama might be the only person left on a government payroll who despises capitalism.

About six weeks ago, Texas Watchdog told you Texas A&M University was considering using a contractor rather than university staff to handle dining services on campus. Although many who were aware of it tried to keep it hush, hush, word leaked out that A&M stood to save $125 million over 10 years by using a private company.

The idea has gone over so big the school is now planning to pay the contractor to maintain campus buildings and landscaping, too. Combined with free-market dining services, the school’s savings estimate now stands at $260 million, Texas Tribune reports Friday.

The contract with Compass Group USA, of North Carolina, is the largest of its kind with any American university, the story says.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, privatization has suddenly become all the rage in certain circles, particularly among Democratic leaders who have the unenviable task of telling their citizens their governments have spent them out of money.

Compass has guaranteed employees jobs for two years with a 4-percent pay increase to even out a difference with the company benefits package if they reapply and pass a background check.

University president R. Bowen Loftin thought the Compass offer very fair. Quite a few of the roughly 1,650 taxpayer-sponsored employees who had been serving up the barbecue, cleaning the toilets and cutting the lawn disagree.

Walter Draper, an assistant custodial supervisor who thought it unfair, wondered aloud how a private company could do the same jobs he and his colleagues were doing for an average of $26 million less every year.

“Texas A&M has one of the finest business schools in the country, and yet we can’t figure out how to in-house save money out of our department,” Draper said, with a metaphorical scratch of the head.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, Texas A&M logo from the Texas A&M University System.

brian jensen
Sunday, 07/29/2012 - 06:32PM

start off a news story by saying obama despises capitalism? weird..when did this site turn into FNC?

also kinda weird to make that point on a non-profit news org. website.

do state employed custodian supervisors (like the one you quote after implying that govt employees like privatization) not count as govt employees?

you didn't tell us "A&M University was considering using a contractor rather than university staff to handle dining services on campus." you told us about some other paper, who was talking to an anonymous source, said that.

word leaked out? you mean they told the press confidentially it would save lots of money? confidentially, perhaps, because it's BS?

who is to say this source isn't the owner of the company standing to make 100s of millions?

i'm surprised you included the only insightful quote (which you didn't attribute - plagiarism alert) about the business school not being able to fix the uni's problems - which seems kind of obvious, but i find relatively insightful.

really shabby journalism here, guys.

Trent Seibert, editor, Texas Watchdog
Sunday, 07/29/2012 - 09:43PM

"Plagiarism alert?"

Mr. Jensen,

Your accusation here and on your personal blog that Texas Watchdog has misappropriated the work of someone else is false, and I would add that it is a serious charge to level at another professional. I am sure you have covered this in your journalism coursework at the University of Houston.

Both the attribution and link to the original Texas Tribune story is in the third paragraph. This is our standard practice and is widely accepted in journalism and blogging circles.

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