British Columbia (population 3.6 million) is implementing the largest traffic camera application in the world. When completed later this year, the system will:

Employ 30 photo radar cameras to record the image, speed and license numbers of passing vehicles;

Generate 1 million violation tickets per year (about $100 million in fines);

Decrease overall speed resulting in an estimated 9,200 fewer crashes, 4,000 fewer injuries and 50 fewer deaths;

Save an estimated $125 million per year in insurance costs and another $200 million per year in indirect social costs.

The size and potential impact of this project forced the province to re-examine fundamental procurement issues such as how to select a vendor, how to decide on the amount of private sector participation, how to outsource parts of this multi-million dollar project, and how to ensure that the selection could survive severe public scrutiny.

This article focuses on their procurement process, the specific mechanism by which the province selected a systems integrator, and how it outsourced some of the processing.

IN THE BEGINNING ...

In the four years preceding this project, British Columbia did its homework. Through the combined efforts of several agencies, officials began to learn about available tools and technologies. They attended conferences, surveyed the marketplace and identified the leading vendors; attended presentations and demonstrations; and visited sites where the systems and products being considered had already been implemented. When this was done, they ran actual tests (prototypes) on their own roads of the systems/products under consideration.

All of these activities promoted informed discussions at senior levels of government about alternative technologies, policy issues and the implications of photo radar in British Columbia. Much on-the-ground experience was obtained which would later influence the formal project planning stage.

SETTING GOALS

In 1995, full-time project staff were acquired from several agencies and ministries and from outside suppliers. Program goals were established, project planning undertaken and existing systems examined to determine the scope of the changes. Dozens of people and several agencies were involved in these activities, which spanned many months. A project charter was developed and a formal project infrastructure, including Stakeholders Forum, Working Group Representatives and Key Users Group, was put in place.

In May and June, Joint Applications Development (JAD) sessions were held to review both the business processes and the technical issues. Up to 30 people, representing the various stakeholders and the affected operational areas, attended specific JAD sessions.

These sessions identified and examined eight major steps in the process:

Scheduling

Deployment and picture capture

Data capture, film processing, archiving

Notification of offense to registered vehicle owner

Processing of notices and violation tickets

Contravention system

Courts system

Fines administration and adjudication system

At these JAD sessions, the stakeholders decided that the scope of this request for proposal (RFP) would be restricted to steps two, three and four; that is, the selected supplier would at most provide the cameras and the vans, process the film, and produce the notices of the offense. Furthermore, the province decided to seek a single supplier to provide all of the required equipment and systems to implement these activities. They were seeking a "turnkey" development. British Columbia was looking for a vendor or a consortium of several vendors to address the entire package -- not just cameras, not just the back-end operations, but all of the activities in steps two, three and four. The RFP was to be structured to support the evaluation of several different scenarios for processing the film and issuing the violation tickets.

DEVELOPING THE RFP

As in other jurisdictions throughout North America, British Columbia policy requires that the acquisition of goods or services be undertaken in a "visibly fair, ethical and prudent" manner. In this case, the use of a RFP was dictated not only by policy, but by