The first seminar at PIE II in Los Angeles, simulcasted to PIE in Chicago, dealt with the privatization of individual parts of the parking operation. Mary Houghton of the Phoenix Group lead Bob Hindle of Parking Concepts, Jano Baghdarian of the City of Glendale, Ca, and Bob Bortfeld of the City of Santa Monica thought an interesting discussion of the issues of the public/private team.
There are many aspects, but I thought one of the most interesting was the discussion of how to ensure that a firewall doesn’t form between the two groups. The way I heard it, if the public sector has too many formal ways to charge back the private sector for errors, the private group could be motivated not to report problems and work to fix them. This is particularly a problem when dealing with customers.
Jano pointed out that although they have four or five hundred dollar fees they can assess their vendor for mistakes, they seldom do. "For one thing, they can simply pay it." Well think about it, if paying the $500 saves them $10,000 in other ways, why not just pay the fine and go on.
On the other hand, he said, if the vendor is motivated to provide the best service, and brings problems to the city or other public entity without fear of recrimination, issues can be quickly solved, and communications work out well. If it becomes clear that a vendor simply isn’t doing a good job, the best way to handle it is to void the contract and hire another. Trying to force someone to do a good job seldom works.