A review copy of this case is available free of charge to educators and trainers. Please
create an account
or sign in
to gain access to this material.
Permission to Reprint
Each purchase of this product entitles the buyer to one digital file and use.
If you intend to distribute, teach, or share this item, you must purchase
permission for each individual who will be given access.
Learn more about
purchasing permission to reprint.
Abstract: When a public sector agency decides to privatize a large government function (as opposed to a more discreet job), the process of negotiating the service contract becomes a more complex and far-reaching endeavor. This case study describes the dilemmas that surfaced when a government agency in British Columbia--the Ministry of Provincial Revenue--negotiated a 10-year, $750 million contract for non-tax revenue collection to EDS Canada, a subsidiary of the Texas-based Electronic Data Systems corporation. The appeal of the deal, from the public sector perspective, was that it transferred the risk of upgrading an outmoded, under-resourced system to the private sector. The appeal to the private sector was that it allowed the company to recover costs and make a profit by taking a share of the financial benefits that resulted from the upgrade. But negotiating the ins and outs of the contract for this ambitious project was to prove a formidable nearly an insurmountable hurdle for two organizations that inhabited different cultures, held different assumptions, and pursued different mandates. For example, what profit level was reasonable? Should the company be required to reveal its costs to the government? To what extent should the details of the contract be public, if at all? In what areas--if any--should public officials be able to regulate the firms business practices? And how should either party be held accountable for its contractual promises?
Learning Objective: This is an abridged version of a case that was developed for a Harvard Kennedy School course on public-private partnerships. It affords students a balanced, inside look at the nitty-gritty dilemmas of both the public and private sector negotiators.