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The SAGE Handbook of Governance: Contracting Out

Cohen, Steven Alan; Eimicke, William B.

The formal definition of a contract is simple: ‘An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law’ (, 2004). A contract specifies the good or service being procured, and typically includes information about price, schedule, and the definition and amount of the service or product being delivered. While the definition of a contract might be quite simple, as Phillip Cooper notes: ‘great latitude is left to the contracting parties to an agreement to have the tools to fashion and implement it. Negotiations resulting in a meeting of minds are the dominant dynamic in most contracting’ (2003: 13). This chapter focuses on contracts between government and non-governmental entities and the role of the government contract manager. Government contracting has expanded substantially over the past three decades and has taken on ideological baggage, often associated with shrinking the size of government, lower pay, job losses, and outsourcing of jobs to other countries. At the same time, government has been a major purchaser of goods and services in the marketplace for hundreds of years, buying everything from weapons, uniforms, airplanes, and ships to paper, soap, light bulbs, and paper clips.


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The SAGE handbook of governance
Sage Publications

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International and Public Affairs
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July 8, 2016