Explaining the policy-practice gap in U.S. federal contracting: institutional isopraxism and performance-based acquisition
Mansfield, Bryan F.
Snider, Keith F.
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Performance-based acquisition (PBA; see, for example, Maddox et al. 2014) has been an important element of U.S. federal public procurement policy for over thirty years. The underlying rationale of PBA is that the government should not tell contractors how to perform, because doing so would stifle industry’s creativity. Instead, the government should define its requirements in terms of the outcomes contractors must achieve without specifying the “how to” details. Such an approach, its proponents argue, improves competition and empowers industry to innovate and accomplish desired objectives more efficiently. Further, greater reliance on performance specifications in contracts should allow for reductions in government contract oversight processes and personnel, with concomitant cost and schedule savings. (Wehrle-Einhorn 1993, p. 10). Over the years, procurement policy-makers have pursued PBA’s benefits through progressively prescriptive measures, ranging from (1) initial policy preferences for PBA in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to (2) statutory preferences with mandatory reporting requirements and implementation goals to (3) high-level approvals for certain types of contracts not classiﬁed as PBA (Government Accountability Ofﬁce (GAO) 2002).
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49280-3_9
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