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The New Frontier

Uncle Sam wants you! Care to enlist in the growing ranks of entrepreneurs running government services?

This story appears in the May 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The government's practice of hiring private companies to provide goods and services is as old as the country itself--a little older actually. During the American Revolution, George Washington used private spies and detection services to help defeat the British.

More than 200 years later, everyone from the president of the United States to the mayor of Indianapolis is still following Washington's lead. The Department of Defense, already dependent on private companies, is planning to have outsourcing competitions involving about 150,000 positions over the next six years. Historically, about half the competitions are won by private companies. Big cities, meanwhile, boast big savings--$400 million since 1992 in Indianapolis, $42 million each year in Philadelphia, and $32 million since 1979 in Phoenix--from using private firms rather than in-house staff.

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