This is an age old issue and one that stirs up debate on all sides. The government spends a lot of money on suppliers. Even in a place like New Brunswick, the amount spent on all suppliers from all levels of government would likely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Further, you could mount a case that a lot of stuff the government does inhouse could just as easily be done out-house (without the outhouse results) as with Sweden and its private sector providing health care service within the public health care system.
I think it is fair for governments to consider the economic development benefits of a large supplier deal as part of its overall assessment of procurement opportunities. I don’t mean that we should sacrifice the quality of the product or service in the name of a few jobs but if there is a way to leverage further economic activity I think it is worthy of the effort.
For example, the Nova Scotia government recently outsourced its SAP activities to IBM with the explicit goal of IBM making Halifax a global delivery centre for IBM.
I realize this was somewhat controversial as it meant moving some jobs from the public service to a private contractor (media reports say no one was fired – everyone was either reassigned or went with IBM) but I like the idea of using this base of business to leverage a larger opportunity.
The Coast got a copy of the contract which I downloaded. It’s heavily redacted but it seems like a fairly straightforward contract.
However, it’s an interesting social media moment. The news editor of the Coast has asked his readers to look the documents over and comment on them.
There is no inherent reason why government needs to manage its IT and related services in-house. I’m sure it can be done well in-house or out-house. If Dexter is right and IBM makes Halifax a global delivery centre for SAP services – it could turn out to be a great move.