Privatization in Practice: Case Studies of Contracting for TANF Case Management. Public Agencies Must Dedicate Resources to Monitor the Work of Contractors Effectively

03/01/2003

Even though private agencies are delivering services, public agencies are still accountable to taxpayers, and must therefore monitor the work of service providers. Public welfare agencies need to ensure that contractors: (1) deliver services that meet standards for quality and effectiveness, (2) abide by program rules, and (3) bill only for appropriate services and properly administer subcontractor payments. The most effective monitoring systems are those that identify weaknesses in contractors operations early and facilitate cooperation between contractors and the public agency in order to remedy them.

Monitoring requires significant resources. Public agency employees often need to learn new skills in order to monitor contractors successfully. For example, staff who may have focused previously on service delivery must often learn to analyze information gathered about contractors work and provide technical assistance to providers. Employees also must decide how contractors can participate in monitoring without unreasonably diverting attention and resources from their primary duty of working with clients.

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