Panel Paper: The Dual Purpose of Procurement Policy

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 : 2:00 PM
Clement House, 3rd Floor, Room 05 (London School of Economics)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lukas C. Brun, Duke University; North Carolina State University
Governments establish public policy goals for procurement that are ancillary to their receipt of a good or service at a specified time, price, and quality. The goals provide for additional public benefit to be derived from the procurement activities of governments, such as increasing innovation or improving economic, social, and environmental conditions. Although significant attention has been given to the role of national level procurement policy to stimulate innovation and technological development for the U.S. and other countries, the academic literature has largely omitted the examination of how U.S. local governments use procurement policy to achieve economic, social, and environmental goals for their jurisdictions. The purpose of this paper is to better understand how the existing literature has conceptualized the use of government procurement power by U.S. local governments to achieve multiple objectives, the factors that lead local U.S. governments to adopt procurement policies with multiple objectives, and the economic and legal challenges for U.S. local governments to use public procurement to achieve economic, social, and environmental objectives.

The contribution of this paper to the public policy and management literature is to two-fold: first, the research establishes that governments have multiple goals when establishing procurement policies, the categories of goals they seek to achieve, and the prevalence of these policies among the largest U.S. local governments. Second, it challenges the narrative in the service delivery network literature (Milward & Provan 2000) that partnering with the private sector leads to the diminished capacity and legitimacy of the state. To the contrary, the evidence presented in this paper illustrates how networked governance allows governments to enlist the private sector to help achieve policy goals acceptable to the political economies in which they reside.