In This Issue

Federal Government

Empowering the End-User as Procurement Agent Through E-Commerce

Public procurement is an example of the principal-agent paradigm, in which a principal employs an agent to make decisions on behalf of the principal. This agency relationship has been scrutinized from countless academic angles because of the intractable problems it creates, referred to generally as the “agency problem.” In this problem, almost invariably, the agent will diverge from the principal’s optimal outcome, out of the agent’s selfish interests. The agency problem inevitably causes residual losses, despite extensive efforts and costs in monitoring the performance of procurement agents and sanctioning aberrant agents. Whereas in the commercial sector, costs and losses due to the agency problem are borne by the principal, and thus efficiently managed, the residual loss in government procurement often falls on the end-user (that is, the individual who actually uses the procured item).


A Common Taxonomy for Carbon: How States and Cities Use Public Procurement to Combat Climate Change

The global marketplace is facing an existential threat — climate change. As governments and public institutions grapple with this risk, these bodies increasingly are seeking innovative public procurement solutions. This paper assesses the use of environmentally sustainable procurement by state and local governments and develops a common taxonomy to encapsulate the myriad of strategies, processes, and tools used by these jurisdictions. This paper proposes that, although environmentally preferable purchasing policies are commonplace, states and cities should pursue greenhouse gas emissions-focused procurement tools, in particular the use of source selection evaluation criteria, to aggressively counteract climate change.


Russian Interference in U.S. Elections: How to Protect Critical Election Infrastructure from Foreign Participation

In late 2015, Russian government hackers targeted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) network, gaining access to emails, other communications, and opposition research on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.1 This attack was part of a concerted effort by Russia to subvert and “sow discord” in the U.S. political system.2 This attack was not limited to political party networks: the Russians also attempted to hack into state election systems, illegally paid for political advertisements, and used trolls and fake social media accounts to spread disinformation and create controversy.3

National Security

Preventing Civilian Casualties: Accountability & Oversight for Drone Contractors

On February 4, 2002, a U.S. Predator drone relayed images of a tall man thought to be the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, on the basis that he was tall and being treated with respect.1 As the man and two others emerged from a wooded area, a missile was launched from the drone, killing the individuals. 2 This was the first time that a Predator drone was used in a targeted killing;3 however, there were doubts about whether the man targeted was in fact Osama bin Laden. A few days after the strike, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked whether any evidence suggested that Osama bin Laden might have been killed and he responded, “We just simply have no idea.”4 One week after the strike, Department of Defense (DoD) spokeswoman Victoria Clark, stated, “We don’t know yet exactly who it was.”5 It was later reported that the tall man was not Osama bin Laden.6

National Security

Defense Wins Championships, But Also Cost Taxpayers Billions: How Additions to the Nunn-McCurdy Act Can Transform It from a Mere Reporting Requirement to an Effective Cost Control Mechanism

When it comes to military spending, no nation on the planet comes close to matching the expenditures of the United States.1 In 2015, world military spending totaled over $1.6 trillion, of which the U.S. accounted for thirty-seven percent.2 In fiscal year 2018, the United States spent more on national defense than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany combined, $649 billion to their combined $609 billion.3 “Military spending is the second-largest item in the [U.S.] federal budget after Social Security.”4 According to the Congressional Budget Office, about one-sixth of federal spending goes to national defense.5


European-Style Green Public Procurement in the American Context: What It Could Look Like

If greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by the year 2040.1 This change will result in grim consequences: mass inundations of coastlines, annual losses in the U.S. economy in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and the intensification of current extreme weather.2 Unless major emitters like the United States3 start undertaking mitigation and adaption efforts, serious consequences lie ahead in the near future.4 Due to this escalating environmental deterioration, sustainable practices such as green procurement have received considerable attention and sparked intense discussion around the world.5