As governments look at cutbacks this year, only a part of those cutback will be in the form of direct employees and line items. A lot of government work is contracted out, and it will get a close look too.
So consider the story out of Tacoma about that city's contract with The Orion Partnership of Issaquah. This week the city council evidently is taking a second look at the deal with Orion, for an amount of around $300,000, about half of the overall business it is doing with the firm.
What does Orion do? According to the Tacoma News Tribune, "George Orr III and Kathleen Ryan, the Orion consultants, have helped city officials design and facilitate meetings with large and small groups that are aimed at making city government more efficient. For example, they helped city officials organize the huge two-day meeting of city employees that led to the Safe and Clean initiative, a program aimed at cutting crime in half in 14 months and generally sprucing up the city. City officials cannot pull off such large-scale events without outside help, [city manager's analyst Mary] Morrison said."
Hmm. Without offering any kind of view of Orion (we have no reason to think it doesn't do solid work), we would suggest that hard-pressed Tacoma taxpayers may be a little concerned - under the current circumstances - about experienced city officials, executives and managers unable to "design and facilitate meetings with large and small groups" on their own.