Buyers' workload and R&D procurement outcomes: Evidence from the US Air Force Research Lab

Giuffrida, Leonardo M. ; Raiteri, Emilio

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-606087
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2021
The title of a journal, publication series: ZEW Discussion Papers
Volume: 21-059
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: Sonstige Einrichtungen > ZEW - Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des ZEW (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) > ZEW Discussion Papers
Subject: 330 Economics
Classification: JEL: D23 , H57 , O31 , O32,
Keywords (English): workload , public procurement , contracting officer , R&D , patents
Abstract: Does workload constitute a bottleneck to a public agency’s mission, and if so, to what extent? We ask these questions in the context of the US government’s procurement of R&D. We link tender, contract, patent, and office records to the identity of the officer responsible for the procurement process to estimate how workload in the federal acquisition unit affects the execution of R&D contracts. The identification comes from unanticipated retirement shifts among contracting officers, which we use to instrument workload. We find a large increase in patenting at the extensive margin when the same officer is exposed to a declining workload. In our sample, an additional contracting officer in the procurement unit, holding fixed the procurement budget and number of purchases, leads to a two percentage point increase in the probability for an R&D contract to generate patents. We provide suggestive evidence that backlogged contracting officers are unable to devote enough time to tender and contract specifications.

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