A system of providing funds for major capital investments in which private firms are contracted to complete and manage public projects. Under a private finance initiative, the private company, instead of the government, handles the up-front costs. The project is then leased to the public, and the government authority makes annual payments to the private company. These contracts are typically given to construction firms and can last 30 years or longer. In the United States, PFIs are called public-private partnerships.