Accountability Chalenges in Public Sector Contracting for Complex Products

Trevor L. Brown, Matthew Potoski, David M. Van Slyke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

2 Scopus citations


The U.S. federal government spent over $419 billion in fiscal year 2006 for procurement-almost doubling 2001 procurement expenditures (Hutton 2008). The rationale for this level of buying is to lower costs through scale or market efficiencies, spark service-delivery improvements or innovation through competition, and access expertise or capacity unavailable in-house (Kelman 2002). The risks of so much buying are that cost savings through contracting are sometimes illusory, quality suffers, and delivery is delayed (Sclar 2000). Some fear that such large-scale procurement undermines accountability: when government purchases rather than produces, the chain of accountability is extended even further and perhaps is weakened. People working for government are more easily held accountable than people working for organizations that sell to the government. When contracting fails, responsibility is muddled. Does fault lie with the seller, the buyer, or unforeseen circumstances that nature delivered?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAccountable Governance
Subtitle of host publicationProblems and Promises
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781317477860
ISBN (Print)9780765623836
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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