The current political tone and the new leadership of federal agencies has made me consider options that I never thought were reasonable. Privatization of certain government functions is one of them.
In spite of what party leaders are saying about “taking power from Washington and bringing it back to the people,” Trump’s leadership style seems to be a tight command and control operation with personal reprisal and public attacks against disloyal government servants. This style indicates power centralized at the very top, with little room for disagreement or even experimentation at regional offices around the country. As such, it is highly doubtful that Trump’s cabinet picks will actually give more power back to states (New York, especially) in order to experiment with local control where the feds previously had a hand.
In this context, I am starting to wonder if private corporations might develop and provide more equitable and efficient government services than the federal government would under Trump. The least efficient agency that I know of is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To my knowledge as a casual observer of immigration law, USCIS frequently loses paperwork, they take forever to make decisions, and they hold their own mistakes against the applicants if and when they do make an error. This kind of ineffective bureaucracy would never stand if the clients it served were white, middle class American citizens, but because the clients are foreigners and immigrants, the level of service has not risen to the basic level we expect at Burger King or Domino’s Pizza.
Many other agency functions have already been delegated to the states, prime examples being the distribution of benefits such as Food Stamps, TANF, Medicare and Medicaid, accomplished by Department of Social Services at a state or county level. So in a sense, the federal government has already given up on managing those programs.
One critique of this argument is that USCIS and other federal agencies would thrive and deliver amazing results if only they received proper amounts of funding. That may be true. But with a $14 billion wall in the works and Republicans at the helm, increased funding for any federal agency that does not primarily involve men with guns is unlikely to succeed.
So let’s give Google a try at it. Let’s let CostCo give it a go. Maybe a private conglomeration of immigration attorneys will materialize to run the agency with ease and accuracy. Or maybe Rocket Lawyer will answer the call. Who can resist a multi-billion dollar government contract to provide services indefinitely?