Sharing Power: Public Governance and Private Markets

Sharing Power: Public Governance and Private Markets

Sharing Power: Public Governance and Private Markets

Sharing Power: Public Governance and Private Markets


In a searching examination of why the " competition prescription" has not worked well, Donald F. Kettl finds that government has largely been a poor judge of private markets. Because government rarely operates in truly competitive markets contracting out has not so much solved the problems of inefficiency, but has aggravated them.


Part way through the research on this book, sI visited the Department of Energy's Rocky Flats Plant, near Denver. Staff members at the plant told me a tale that in many ways is a parable for the central problem of this book.

In 1991, neighbors of the plant discovered that thousands of prairie dogs were migrating from the plant's property onto their land. a large colony, in fact, was expanding into land being investigated for plutonium contamination. the suspected contamination had occurred, researchers believed, decades before when barrels containing plutonium waste leaked into the surrounding ground and the dirt blew off the plant site. Many of the plant's neighbors worried that with the spread of the prairie dogs from the plant came the risk of plutonium contamination as well. the prairie dogs naturally soon came to be known to residents as the "hot dogs."

The prairie dogs were breeding vigorously. To zoo visitors that might be cute, but for western ranchers they are a major pest. Prairie dogs often remain on the land until they defoliate it. in the process, they can spread disease and dig holes that can trip horses and cattle. By late 1991 more than 3,000 prairie dogs had settled into the area.

What to do about the prairie dogs thus became a major problem for the Department of Energy (DOE), which owned the plant; for Rockwell International, the contractor that operated the plant for DOE; and for the local governments around the plant. To control the pests, doe and local officials considered several options. One was to create natural barriers, such as hedges, but prairie dogs can eat their way through vegetation and tunnel under fences. Another was to put . . .

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