Bloomberg taps PPP veteran for deputy mayor job

Stephen Goldsmith, the Indianapolis Mayor known for opening up the city’s services to private sector competition, will serve as New York City’s next deputy mayor. His appointment comes at a time when the city is facing a $1.3bn hole in its budget and is looking at layoffs and service reductions as a way to close the gap.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has selected an expert on public-private partnerships to serve as the city’s next deputy mayor for operations.

Bloomberg handed the job to Stephen Goldsmith, the former two-term mayor of Indianapolis best known for revitalising the city’s downtown area with the help of the private sector.

Lots of people talk about 'reinventing government' – Steve Goldsmith has actually done it

Michael Bloomberg

“Lots of people talk about ‘reinventing government’ – Steve Goldsmith has actually done it, leading the storied turnaround of Indianapolis,” Bloomberg said in a statement announcing his appointment.

The statement also credited Goldsmith for reducing government spending, cutting bureaucracy and spearheading “a major expansion of public-private partnerships” during his tenure as Mayor of Indianapolis from 1992 to 1999. He opened more than 80 city services up for competitive bidding to the private sector, according to a curriculum vitae.


Some have criticised Goldsmith’s record by saying that he relied too much on debt to make Indianapolis’ turnaround happen. A fact file on Goldsmith from the The Indianapolis Star, the city’s daily newspaper, said the city’s debt load also increased during his administration from $1.13 billion in 1991 to $1.81 billion in 1999. His eventual successor, Democrat Bart Peterson, was among the critics saying that Goldsmith’s success was built more on debt than innovation, according to the file.

Despite this, Goldsmith used his accomplishments in Indianapolis to launch a career as an advisor and lecturer in public-private partnerships (PPPs) and government administration. He taught courses on these topics at several universities and wrote six books on governance. Most recently he served as a senior strategic advisor at Washington, DC-based law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge in its global infrastructure and PPPs practice.

“Mayor Bloomberg made me an offer I could not refuse,” Goldsmith said in a statement issued by McKenna.

Indianapolis: turn-around
story under Goldsmith

In New York, Goldsmith will be responsible for overseeing the New York Police and Fire Departments and the Departments of Transportation and Sanitation, among other agencies. Prior to his appointment, the agencies were overseen by Edward Skyler, who announced last month he would be leaving the Bloomberg Administration to join financial services giant Citi as an executive vice president in its global public affairs division.

The appointment comes at a difficult time for New York. Amid a continuing battle over a record $9.2 billion budget deficit, New York Governor David Paterson is “starving” New York City of state funds, Bloomberg said in a statement announcing the city’s next budget. The budget assumes a $1.3 billion hit from the reductions in state funds, which Bloomberg proposes to mitigate in part by cutting the city’s payroll by 10,997 employees.

Mayor Bloomberg made me an offer I could not refuse

Stephen Goldsmith

On the cutting board are positions and services in the fire department as well as the parks, children’s services, human resources, aging and health agencies. The transportation department would also raise parking rates from $2 to $2.50 per hour in Midtown Manhattan, according to the budget proposal.

Bloomberg has promised not to increase taxes in his efforts to balance the budget.

In the statement announcing Goldmith’s appointment, Bloomberg hinted he would look for “innovative new ways” to help the city persevere through difficult times when innovation is “more important than ever.”

“In Steve Goldsmith, we have found someone who – perhaps better than anyone else in the nation – understands the power of innovation,” Bloomberg said.