The Effect of New Political Administration on Federal Government Productivity and Employment

Frank R. Lichtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 5601
Issued in June 1996
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

There have been a number of econometric studies of the effect of changes in management and control on the productivity and employment of private,but not but not of public, enterprises. This paper examines the impact of changes in political administration on the productivity and employment of the entire executive branch of the U.S. government using data compiled under the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Federal Productivity Measurement Program. The estimates Measurement Program. The estimates indicate that the mean rate of productivity growth in the first year of administrations is 2.6 times as high as the mean growth in subsequent years. Also, employment growth is strictly increasing with respect to the administration's tenure: 95% of federal employment growth during the period 1967-94 occurred in the fourth or later years of political administrations, although administrations were that old only 36% of the time. These findings are broadly consistent with evidence about the private sector. They suggest that the inauguration of a new administration initially purges the executive branch, but as an administration's tenure increases, fat and inefficiency tend to accumulate.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5601


  • Published as "The Effect of Government Funding on Private Industrial Research and Development: A Re-Assessment", JINDE, Vol. 36, no. 1 (1987): 97-104. With Donald Siegel, published as "The Effect of Control Changes on the
  • Productivity of U.S. Manufacturing Plants", JACF, Vol. 2, no. 2 (1989): 60- 67.

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