This field-based case introduces Ron Helton, a partner in a civil-engineering and design firm called Thompson & Litton. The firm has just learned that it did not get two major contracts it had bid on. Sales are flat. Still, there is a proposal on the table for Thompson & Litton to begin working with a consultant to develop and initiate new construction deals with the state. There is a good upside to the proposal, but the downside is that the risk is significant. Meanwhile, because prison reform has become a prominent political issue, Helton is exploring an alternative option—building new rehabilitation facilities instead of prisons. Helton and the rest of the firm’s management must decide how to proceed.
This case can be useful in courses exploring government procurement contracts, public–private partnerships, and political attitudes about business practices.