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MassDoT Secretary Jeff Mullan used this term yesterday in reference to a move to have more snow plowing done in-house, rather than by private contractors. I’m skeptical to say the least — the Turnpike to MassHighway analogy used in the article (where the Turnpike uses in-house staff while MHD uses a lot of contractors) is a false one — Turnpike is a discrete asset, MHD has lot more miles spread out over the state.

And I hope any analysis done is all-in — you’ve got to count the capital cost of any new equipment plus factor in the maintenance of that equipment (or the reduced lifecycle if you don’t do it). Plus the overtime and/or lost productivity (for other tasks) of the state workers. Plus the fully-loaded costs (including bond interest and fringe benefits, whether or not we fund them properly) for any new employees.

As of 2007, it turns out that 6 of the 27 public transportation entities surveyed used private contractors. Massachusetts did not participate in the survey, sadly.

The entire MassDoT budget is laid out in 19 pages, so there’s no detail on this initiative. It’s difficult to believe that a comprehensive analysis would show any savings for the state.