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Contracting for Government Services: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Cities

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  • Jonathan Levin
  • Steven Tadelis

Abstract

Local governments can provide services with their own employees or by contracting with private or public sector providers. We develop a model of this "make-or-buy" choice that highlights the trade-off between productive efficiency and the costs of contract administration. We construct a dataset of service provision choices by U.S. cities and identify a range of service and city characteristics as significant determinants of contracting decisions. Our analysis suggests an important role for economic efficiency concerns, as well as politics, in contracting for government services.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13350.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13350.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Publication status: published as CONTRACTING FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES: THEORY AND EVIDENCE FROM U.S. CITIES† JONATHAN LEVIN1, STEVEN TADELIS2 Article first published online: 3 SEP 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6451.2010.00430.x
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13350

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  1. Steven Tadelis, 2002. "Complexity, Flexibility, and the Make-or-Buy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 433-437, May.
  2. Masten, Scott E, 1984. "The Organization of Production: Evidence from the Aerospace Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 403-17, October.
  3. Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1997. "Privatization in the United States," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 447-471, Autumn.
  4. Mildred Warner & Robert Hebdon, 2001. "Local Government Restructuring: Privatization and Its Alternatives," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(2), pages 315-336.
  5. Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
  6. Boycko, Maxim & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1996. "A Theory of Privatisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 309-19, March.
  7. Barzel, Yoram, 1982. "Measurement Cost and the Organization of Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 27-48, April.
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