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Bureaucratic Competence and Procurement Outcomes


  • Francesco Decarolis
  • Leonardo M. Giuffrida
  • Elisabetta Iossa
  • Vincenzo Mollisi
  • Giancarlo Spagnolo


Does a more competent public bureaucracy contribute to better economic outcomes? We address this question in the context of the US federal procurement of services and works by combining contract-level data on procurement performance and bureau-level data on competence and workforce characteristics. Using an instrumental variable strategy, we find that an increase in bureau competence causes a significant and economically important reduction in: i) delays, ii) cost overruns, and iii) number of renegotiations. Cooperation within the office appears to be a key driver of the findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Decarolis & Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Elisabetta Iossa & Vincenzo Mollisi & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2018. "Bureaucratic Competence and Procurement Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 24201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24201
    Note: IO LS PE

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    Cited by:

    1. Seres, G. & Pigon, Adam, 2019. "On the Competitive Effects of Screening in Procurement," Discussion Paper 2019-019, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Jääskeläinen, Jan & Tukiainen, Janne, 2019. "Anatomy of public procurement," Working Papers 118, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Adam Pigoñ & Gyula Seres, 2019. "On the competitive effects of screening in procurement," IBS Working Papers 08/2019, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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