Outsourcing and political power: Bureaucrats, consultants, vendors and public information technology

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19 Scopus citations


The rapidly growing governmental IT outsourcing trend raises different questions: Who, inside bureaucracy, governs computer systems after outsourcing? Which actors gain or lose political clout when the government begins to aggressively outsource its IT operations? How does IT outsourcing change the relationships among bureaucrats, consultants, and vendors? The article highlights the increasingly important and behind-the-scenes role the consultant plays as an intermediary between the MIS bureaucrat and technological vendors. IT consultants exert an enormous amount of political power because they are the "glue" binding together all the actors involved in producing and maintaining public information technology. Regrettably, this new consultant-centered environment is responsible for the degradation of the organizational and technological skills of MIS bureaucrats and also impairs the feedback information flow between bureaucrats and vendors regarding the status of public computer projects. Therefore, the article suggests that the unchecked power of IT consultants hinders the ability of bureaucrats to be accountable for the systems they manage.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)495-513
Number of pages19
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


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