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Privatization A Systems Perspective

Privatization of the US Government began in 1987 when President Reagan signed Executive Order 12607. This resulted in the report, Privatization Toward More Effective Government. This set the tone and policy in the US that still exists today.

Previously the tone and policy of the US was set when President Roosevelt requested a report from the Office of Scientific Research and Development on what can be done after the war. This resulted in the report Science the Endless Frontier.

There is now evidence suggesting that privatization has led to systemic government shutdowns and other negative unintended consequences including serious damage to the industrial base, colleges, universities, and the citizens of the United States.

This book provides history, examines the industrial base, higher education, air transportation, the FAA, and other areas. It offers a systems perspective, compares pre and post privatization times, and makes recommendations for moving forward in this new century.

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Preface

In 2008 I was requested to support universities to help bring back systems thinking and systems engineering as practiced in our industrial base and government from approximately 1945 to 1995. This led me to write two university textbooks on systems engineering, develop course material, teach, and help to establish and shape the direction of university systems engineering curriculum and master's degrees.

Many times, I was asked if this knowledge should be offered outside traditional engineering programs. Each time my response was no because I wanted roots to be established within the engineering education programs. I now realize that systems knowledge needs to be embedded in all forms of education at all levels.

I grew up in a very different world where systems knowledge and thinking were a way of life. It was everywhere. I first learned about it in elementary school when we were taught that we had a system of government, how the system was structured, how it operated, and why we had this system of government.

Just like systems thinking, knowledge, and engineering has disappeared in most companies and government, it has also disappeared from our social fabric. This has resulted in many negative consequences as we struggle to figure out what is happening and how to correct course for a better future.

My previous books were about teaching systems engineering, systems design and systems thinking. This book is about applying this very powerful approach to understanding and solving problems associated with the fundamental system change that is Privatization.

This book provides some privatization history, offers a system view of the situation, identifies unintended consequences, makes comparisons between pre and post privatization time frames, and offers recommendations for moving forward in this new century. The book is divided into multiple sections:

I considered adding significant content from my previous textbooks to try and offer insight into systems thinking, design, and engineering but I realized the key message in this book would be lost. I encourage readers to seek out my textbooks if they are interested in systems. There is a systems perspectives section that some may view as large, but it is small compared to the full knowledge base.

This book started as standalone papers beginning in 2017 on the effects of privatization. They were offered to colleagues, anyone that was interested, and to elected representatives.

Why did I decide to write this book?

I attended a faculty meeting in 2019 where the topic of discussion was declining undergraduate and graduate education enrollments across the country. They had the data trends and understood the cyclic demographics but there was bewilderment because of the sharp declines. I could see that they were all educators and that they did not understand how our society could be walking away from education especially when we had become such a technologically complex society. As the discussion proceeded, I realized that I stumbled across key data while working on a paper on the unintended consequences of government shutdowns.

A few days after the faculty meeting, I added this key data to an existing paper and passed it to the University. This eventually went to the University government liaison group. It had a huge impact because they were unaware of this data. They were operating at a much higher level when interacting with other universities, companies, and the government. They were thankful for the data and the associated analysis. It was at that point that I decided to capture the work on privatization in this book.

My areas of study are systems engineering and systems application to complex technical and social challenges. I hope that you consider following the same studies.

This book like all my other books could use a great editor. It is filled with bad grammar, bad spelling, poor sentence structure, and just hard to read. All I can say is if you make it through this book you may enjoy the adventure. It may help add some positive value to your adventures. It may even help policy makers moving forward to make more informed decisions.

Enjoy the rest of the book.

Our focus is on privatization from a systems perspective.


Instructor Information

Systems thinking and engineering has traditionally been offered to engineering students. However with the serious challenges in this new century there is a realization that systems knowledge needs to be embedded in all forms of education at all levels. There is a need to apply systems thinking and engineering especially in the areas of major policy decisions in and out of industry. Government privatization can be used as an example throughout your course.

Perspective Students: all students, engineering, government administration, political scientists, historians, teachers, pre-law, pre-med, liberal arts, science, etc.

Textbook: Privatization A Systems Perspective, Walter Sobkiw, 2020.