Lobbyist and Government: San Diego Outsourcing Information Technology Services -- a World Class Private Vendor
The objective of this study is to examine why lobbyists foster better government and to examine whether government would be better off without lobbyists. The county of San Diego is considering outsourcing all of its information technology services to a world-class private sector vender. This work intends to answer as to what are the reasons they should consider doing this and what would be reasons to think twice about doing this? Finally, this study will discuss the reasons why bad public policy decisions are made and what some of the reasons why the cost of health care has reached a crisis point in this country.
Lobbyists perform a vital role in the workings of a democracy because they cause the government to question legislation on policy matters before they sign off on bills becoming laws. Lobbyists are reported as a tool for protecting interests of U.S. citizens at the State Capital and specifically reported in the California Staffing Professionals document entitled 'What is the Work of the Lobbyist' is: "Lobbyists review each bill that is introduced and every amendment to each bill, and forward to the association bills that may be of interest to the industry. If the association needs clarification as to what a bill will do, the lobbyist goes to work by contacting the author's office, the committee consultant, and/or the sponsor." (California Staffing Professionals, 2013) If the agency that sponsors the lobbyist feels that the bill will hurt the industry then the lobbyist works to defeat or amend the bill. This means that the lobbyist has to "lobby the author of the bill and legislature members and then work with the author's staff and committee consultant and negotiate with any interest groups as well as work with the association to coordinate effective grassroots lobbying if needed. The lobbyist also has to monitor the budget process and to protect industry from additional fees and taxes. Finally, if the industry requires a change in the law the lobbyist must obtain an author for the writing of the bill and then lobby that bill through the legislative process. There is a requirement for the lobbyist to "know the process, know who to contact and have credibility in the legislative community." ( ) The role of lobbying according to the BC Teacher's Federation include the following tasks:
to convince a decision-maker of the merits of a certain course of action to provide the decision-maker with information that they don't have to outline a problem to the decision-maker and propose a solution to go on record with a point-of-view, information, and a desired outcome to exercise a right to be heard to demonstrate that constituents are concerned, organizing and "watching" to collect useful information about the decision-maker, their views, and attitudes to clarify the decision-maker's positions to undertake a step viewed as necessary by members and allies to lay the groundwork for further political action to generate media interest to build on relationships with allies (BC Teacher's Federation, 2013)
Whether a lobbyist works for a large organization, a private individual, or the general public the same strategies and goals exist. Primarily the lobbyist must have a talent and be adept "at the art of persuasion, which is the mainstay of their job. (The Princeton Review, ) What this means is that the lobbyist must be able to tailor their appeals "to specific individuals as well as to group voting blocs, such as Southerners or pro-choicers. Lobbyists also occasionally lobby one another. When normally opposing groups find a common area of interest and can present a united front they are extremely effective." ( ) Lobbying may be either "…direct or indirect. Direct lobbying involves meetings with congressmen and informing them of the specific information to a bill that is coming up for vote. The information is provided in the form of "graphs, charts, polls, and reports that she has hunted up or created. Needless to say, this is usually information that the politician might not otherwise have access to, that casts the matter in a light favorable to the interest the lobbyist represents." ( )
Lobbyists are also at times involved in the drafting of legislation. Stated to be key is "Maintaining good relations with politicians who can be relied on to support the lobbyist's interest is key. While lobbyists and their employers cannot themselves make large campaign donations to politicians, they can, and do, raise money from other sources for reelection campaigns. To be successful at all of this, the lobbyist must be well-informed, persuasive, and self-confident." ( ) Lobbyists also are involved at times in what is known as grassroots organization which requires socializing informally with other politicians and opponents. Those who are grassroots lobbyists are reported to ask for the community's help in influencing politicians through letters, calls or demonstrations held on the behalf of the organization. The lobbyist spends many hours making telephone calls and writing letters in an attempt to gain the involvement of the community in an issue. Lobbyists additionally are stated to "report to politicians about the concerns and reactions they have gotten from community members. Indirect lobbying is also done through the media. Grassroots lobbyists write articles for newspapers and magazines and appear on talk shows to generate interest in and awareness of their issues. Lobbyists tend to work long hours-between forty and eighty hours per week is normal, and when a bill is up for vote they will usually work through at least one night." ( ) Reported as the least attractive aspect of being a lobbyist is "…the profession's less-than-spotless reputation." ( ) There are of course the lobbyists who have been "known to grease a palm of two where persuasion falls short, and the rest must suffer the public's mistrust. These honest lobbyists, who represent every segment of society, take refuge in the knowledge that they are working to promote causes they believe in." ( )
The first question in this study was one asking why lobbyists foster better government and whether government would be better off without lobbyists. The literature review thus far in this study has irrevocably demonstrated that lobbyists are vital for informing politicians what is contained in bills and what the real life meanings of the measures contained in the bill mean. The work performed by lobbyists is a critical function in bringing politicians to take a closer view of the bills that are being passed into legislation. For this reason, government would emphatically not be better off without lobbyists.
II. San Diego Information Technology Services Outsourcing
The county of San Diego is reported as giving consideration to outsourcing all of its information technology services to a world-class private vendor and this study is to answer the reasons that the county of San Diego should reconsider this move. Outsourcing of information technology services on the face of it has an appeal and does seem a simple solution to a complicated and complex issue. However, outsourcing information technology services means that no one on board the organization really knows what is going on with the information technology being utilized. Furthermore, in the event of a disaster or crisis, the outsourced company may or may not be readily available for risk mitigation and alternate services provision or re-implementation of the system when needed. The work of Puckett (2013) states that outsourcing of information technology services has the risk of "poor quality deliverables and poor service." This is because service delivery is "something that you will have to deal with on a daily basis, no matter whether you are outsourcing or in your local supermarket." (Puckett, 2013) Knowledge is reported as a common problem when it comes to outsourcing IT services according to Puckett. This is because the organization might be misled and choose the wrong product, technologies or services. Stated as essential in making sure that service delivery and quality of services is precisely what is needed by the business. Puckett further cites challenges of communication and the loss of total control as being two good reasons not to outsource IT services. The hidden costs as well as legal aspects of outsourcing contracts are cited as well. (Puckett, 2013, paraphrased)
III. Bad Public Policy Decisions and Health Care In Crisis
The final question that this study attempts to answer is why it is that bad public policy decisions are made and what some of the reasons why the cost of health care has reached a crisis point in this country. Presently there is the issue of Obamacare which is a government-run and government paid for health care system. According to a report published by the Cato Institute a bad way to provide universal coverage "is through mandates" because with a mandate 'the stage decides what type of health insurance everyone should have." (Cato Institute, 2013) Mandates do not work because politicians are "under too much pressure to 'gold-plate' the required insurance policy because the…