Affiliations: Department of Political Science and Public Administration, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel E‐mail: [email protected]
Abstract: A growing number of public organizations outsource the construction of critical Information Technology (IT) systems. The current public administration theory depicts a world in which the authoritative bureaucrat controls the subjugated vendor. Yet, following three years of fieldwork on this topic, I discovered that vendors play an increasingly influential political role in shaping the agenda of public IT projects. I develop four political models of public IT projects based on how bureaucrats employ their technical knowledge and how vendors manipulate their political status. I exemplify these models with four case studies that reveal the unique reality of public IT projects where failure is common and where planning and execution are inseparable activities. The cases also expose the variety of political roles vendors assume and how they sometimes lead public projects from behind the scenes.