After almost eight years of costly delays, the BC Government has finally released the final details of its ten-year, $300 million Workplace Services contract with IBM. FIPA received word last night that the Government would not appeal a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia confirming their obligation to release the remaining redacted portions of the 2004 contract.
Government stalling throughout this battle has set taxpayers back approximately $230,000, not including the last appearance in BC Supreme Court. All of this despite the fact every argument they made about potential damage to the economic interests of the province, or IBM’s confidentiality interest or most recently the security of the government IT system was rejected at every hearing as “unconvincing”.
The decision is a major victory for openness and accountability in British Columbia. As governments contract an increasing number of services out to private and public sector partners, it’s critical that citizens have access to the terms of these agreements. With hundreds of millions of public dollars on the line, the timely and open disclosure of contracts is essential. FIPA hopes that the release of the IBM contract will set a precedent for this kind of transparency and turn it into the norm.
FIPA would like to extend its thanks to all those who have supported this fight over the past eight years as members, donors, and collaborators. And especially our pro bono legal counsel, Sean Hern, Brent Olthuis and Tam Boyar who billed infinitely less than the government’s lawyers with infinitely better results.
The government’s decision is a victory for the people of British Columbia, and for our information rights.
Check out the Victoria Times Colonist for coverage of the decision.