Centennial Colorado Utilizes Private Contractors For Many City Services

Centennial Colorado (a suburb of Denver) is a city of 100,00 people that was formed in 2001.Centennial has a policy of contracting with outside providers for all public services, unless there is a demonstrable, quantifiable advantage to providing services in-house. By contracting out services Centennial has approximately 51 full-time equivalent employees. The number of employees is a little skewed in that the city contracts with the county for law enforcement and has districts providing things like water and fire.

The Reason Foundation has published a great interview of Centennial’s Mayor and City Manager, according to Centennial’s City Manager Similar sized cities typically have about 1,000 to 1,100 employees. “Indianapolis, for example, is running at about one employee for every 85 residents, and we’re running at one employee for every 2,000 residents.”

Some highlights from the interview:

– Centennial has a large-scale public-private partnership with national engineering firm CH2M HILL to provide all of the city’s public works services.

– The city of Centennial does not provide water and sanitation—those are done by 13 different special districts. Three other special districts provide fire services, and schools are provided by two individual school districts.

– A private company does all of the permitting and other development functions.

Key performance measures for in-house staff and for contractors have been established by the City Council.

Contracting out government services instead of hiring employees has its pros and cons. Centennial Colorado appears to be functioning well by using private contractors for many city services. What do you think about using private contractors for government services?


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