Texas A&M presses on with privatization plan, estimates savings at $260 million

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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.

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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org 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.