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Assessing Contractor Accountability in the Supreme Court

PAQ, Vol. 41 No. 4, (2017)

In the context of the New Public Management (NPM) paradigm, government has increasingly moved from providing services directly to citizens to purchasing services from private providers. One of the arguments offered in favor of contracting out government services is that private providers will be held accountable by the courts. To examine this position, we utilize the Spaeth Supreme Court database to analyze all decisions from 1946—2012 with a private contractor litigant. The results of our study, which suggest the United States Supreme Court has become more pro-contractor over time, empirically refute the argument that contractors will be held more accountable to the rule of law.

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