QUESTIONING MUNICIPAL SELF-PERFORMANCE
Is a decision to selfperform
work defensible in
the context of current
trends to outsourcing
and imperatives to
For more than the past two decades, public policy in Canada has seen a marked shift to private sector
outsourcing. Many of the activities municipalities have traditionally performed in-house are
now delivered by the private sector. The impetus for this shift in public procurement policy has
been the need for governments across Canada to reduce their operating costs and the ability of
private sector outsourcing has been shown repeatedly to be successful in this objective. With respect
to infrastructure construction and maintenance services, even activities once managed by
some municipalities with in-house staff and equipment have been outsourced to the private sector
with good results. A prime example is winter highway maintenance, which has been outsourced
in most provinces.
Within the context of the shift to greater outsourcing of government services and responsibilities,
and the demonstrable rationale for doing so, Canadian municipalities considering a contradictory
shift to in-house performance of infrastructure construction work must adopt the highest
possible standards of scrutiny and due diligence in assessing the potential benefits and risks.
Is council getting complete
and accurate information
when considering selfperformance?
The most commonly cited reason a municipality might consider self-performing aspects of its infrastructure
construction work is cost reduction. In assessing the arguments for and against selfperformance,
and particularly the discussion about the relative cost, municipal councils should
seek independent analysis. Information and analysis generated by municipal staff or offered by
the public sector unions should be recognized as having the potential to be influenced by interests
other than those purported. Independent analysis avoids potential bias in the information upon
which councils must frame their decisions.
12 Think BIG | Quarter 3 2019 | saskheavy.ca