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Commercial Purchasing: The Chasm between the United States Government's Evolving Policy and Practice

Chapter 8 in Public Procurement:The Continuing Revolution, Arrowsmith & Trybus, eds., 2003

GWU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 25

63 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2001 Last revised: 21 May 2011

Steven L. Schooner

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: May 19, 2011

Abstract

During the 1990's, the United States government accelerated its efforts to adopt more commercial practices and buy more commercial items. In doing so, the government sought to: (1) mimic the most successful buying practices of businesses and consumers and (2) rely more heavily upon existing goods and services already produced in the marketplace (rather than demanding creation of government-unique versions). This paper introduces the government's efforts to make its purchasing regime more commercial through the introduction of new policies, vocabulary, purchasing authorities, and practices. The paper unveils a host of impediments that restrain the government from evolving into a truly commercial purchasing regime; impediments that derive from the nature of government, the specific needs of the government, and public's expectations regarding the expenditure of public funds. Ultimately, the paper suggests that the government is well served in attempting to become more commercial, but divining a happy medium - or determining just how commercial to become - is a daunting task.

Keywords: public procurement, commercial contracting

JEL Classification: H57

Suggested Citation

Schooner, Steven L., Commercial Purchasing: The Chasm between the United States Government's Evolving Policy and Practice (May 19, 2011). Chapter 8 in Public Procurement:The Continuing Revolution, Arrowsmith & Trybus, eds., 2003; GWU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=285536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.285536

Steven L. Schooner (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

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