Partnerships: for better, for worse?
Partnerships are the British government's preferred method of procuring public sector services, and the policy is usually justified in terms of delivering value for money. Ex ante financial methodologies are prescribed to ensure that decision making is based on a sound appraisal of alternatives and the government has called for an evaluation of implemented projects. This paper seeks to contribute to that evaluative process by exploring ex post facto some of the issues and problems that arose in practice. Using a case study approach, the paper considers two failures of information technology partnerships to examine how risk transfer, which is at the heart of the partnership policy, works in practice. The cases show that the contracts failed to transfer risk in the way that had been expected. The public agencies, not the commercial partner, bore the management risk and costs fell on the public at large and/or other public agencies.