The Promises, Performance, and Pitfalls of Government Contracting

Jocelyn M. Johnston and Barbara S. Romzek

in The Oxford Handbook of American Bureaucracy

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199238958
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

The Promises, Performance, and Pitfalls of Government Contracting

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  • Public Administration
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This article investigates what prior research reports about the promises, performance, and perils of government contracting. It first presents an overview of the dimensions of government contracting in the U.S. It then discusses the theory underlying government contracting and how that theory has led to considerable expansion of its size and scope in the United States. The relationship between market theory and government service provision is explained. Reviewed are the claims and counterclaims of proponents and opponents of contracting. Next, the key issues and challenges facing government and nongovernmental agencies in contracting arrangements are investigated. The article then determines areas for future research that seem especially important and promising for improving the understanding of contracting and its implications for the American bureaucracy. The boundaries between public institutions and nongovernmental organizations, and between policymakers and the workforces that drive these sectors, are likely to become even more blurred in the coming decades.

Keywords: government contracting; American bureaucracy; market theory; government service provision; public institutions; nongovernmental organizations; government agency; nongovernmental agency

Article.  11157 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Public Administration ; Public Policy

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