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Branch Custodial Outsourcing

San Antonio Public Library

Problem Statement

The San Antonio Public Library consists of 22 city‐owned branch libraries which have operated with substandard custodial services for many years resulting in reduced life of assets such as carpets, furniture and fixtures. This service deficiency contributed over time to the backlog of deferred maintenance. Inadequate custodial service also negatively affected the experience of patrons in the libraries and discouraged library use. Due to budget constraints, hiring additional in‐house custodians or increasing the hours of part time custodians to full time was not an option. Management identified outsourcing as a possible avenue to increasing branch custodial services within existing budget resources.


The City of San Antonio and the Library Department had a “no lay off” pre‐requisite for any service/budget efficiencies implemented in FY 2010. With this commitment firm, the Library proceeded in issuing a best value, performance outcome based bid using the input of a library team that identified the needs of the library system in this area. An analysis of the resulting proposals for custodial services was conducted to determine if outsourcing was the best and most efficient method for providing an adequate level of custodial services. It was important to Library Management that the bid not be solely based on cost. The bid outlined, in detail, the frequency of each type of custodial service task needed in order to meet a reasonable standard of cleanliness in the most cost effective manner. It also required significant information from the custodial companies as to best service practices and quality assurance. The bid was for both service and supplies. Twelve firms responded, five were selected for follow‐up interviews, with one firm selected based on their bid response and interview.


An outside vendor was selected. The vendor bid of $913,073.52, slightly under the existing cost of in‐house custodial service, was an approximately $400,000.00 decrease from the cost the Library would have incurred if the Library utilized City employees to increase service levels to the levels achieved under the contract. This enabled the Library to increase overall service coverage and service by aproximately half (50% increase) while decreasing the cost per service hour by more than $6.00. There was some library employee displacement; however, all employees were given the right of first refusal by the selected vendor and/or provided employment with other City departments. After a significant human resource effort, no layoffs occurred as a result of this contract. The subsequent service by the vendor has been a success with significant positive feedback from branch managers and staff.