Honest, Efficient and Responsive are the guiding principles integrated within the City’s core operations.
The city of Sandy Springs pioneered the Public-Private Partnership model for service delivery in 2005, using a private sector partner to provide general city services including Public Works, Community Development, Finance, IT, Communications, Recreation and Parks, Municipal Court, and Economic Development. With the exception of public safety personnel – police and fire – only eight members of the City Manager’s executive staff were “city” employees.
The business model fostered a proactive, responsive and efficient approach to providing city services at a considerable savings to the community. In 2010, Sandy Springs was selected as a national runner-up in the Pioneer Institute’s Better Government Competition.
From the City’s inception in 2005 through 2010, CH2M Hill served as the principal contractor in the Public-Private Partnership. As the five-year contract for services was nearing expiration, the City’s elected leaders directed the City Manager to undertake a comprehensive procurement process to ensure that the services provided to the city represented the best value for residents. During that process, it was determined that rather than one provider, breaking up the work packages provided significant annual savings. Seven firms were awarded service contracts: Severn Trent Services (Finance), InterDev (IT), the Collaborative (Community Development and Communications), Jacobs Engineering (Municipal Court and Recreation and Parks), and URS Corporation (Public Works) with a savings estimated at $7M per year versus utilizing a single contract provider. “The results of our efforts are clear and resounding – the competitive market works,” said City Manager John McDonough regarding the results of the procurement.
During the 2019 procurement process, the City again reviewed the marketplace, this time, electing to move those services from contract to city-provided due to considerable cost savings. The City estimated a savings of $14M over five years as compared with the proposed costs in using private sector partners. “In this re-compete, the gap between private sector prices and in-house costs for these services was such that we cannot justify the difference,” said Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul. “We are not abandoning the P3 model, and are keeping some private sector providers for services where the costs make sense. We will continue to evaluate P3 options with in-house service delivery, and will again ask the private sector to bid on these services when job conditions and other market forces allow us to obtain competitive process.”
While the move is a substantial shift, the City continues to use a hybrid Public-Private model, working collaboratively with contracting partners, with more than $11M in outsourced contracts for Fiscal Year 2020. Examples include the City’s Municipal Court Solicitors, City Attorney, and Non-Emergency Call Center. In addition, Sandy Springs retains a Public-Private partnership with Rural Metro Ambulance Service and in partnership with the city of Johns Creek, created and retains the Chattahoochee River 9-1-1 Authority (ChatComm), created in 2009 to provide emergency 9-1-1 services.