Rise of the Quasi Government
Source News for Social Justice Action
Date 05/05/27/01:15

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 49
May 24, 2005

Abetted by official secrecy and one-party dominance, the character
of American government is undergoing a series of fundamental
transformations. While the concentration of power in the
executive branch continues apace, traditional mechanisms of
government accountability are being diminished or dismantled, and
agency actions are increasingly insulated from citizen oversight
or awareness.

As the role of citizens in the democratic process has declined,
the importance of new constellations of power and influence has

One such newly prominent construct is the "quasi government,"
described by the Congressional Research Service as "federally
related entities that possess legal characteristics of both the
governmental and private sectors."

"These hybrid organizations (e.g., Fannie Mae, National Park
Foundation, In-Q-Tel)... have grown in number, size, and
importance in recent decades," the CRS stated in a new report.

"The quasi government, not surprisingly, is a controversial
subject. To supporters of this trend toward greater reliance upon
hybrid organizations, the proper objective of governmental
management is to maximize performance and results, however
defined... They tend to welcome this trend toward greater use of
quasi governmental entities."

"Critics of the quasi government, on the other hand, tend to view
hybrid organizations as contributing to a weakened capacity of
government to perform its fundamental constitutional duties, and
to an erosion in political accountability, a crucial element in
democratic governance...."

"Time will tell whether the emergence of the quasi government is
to be viewed as a symptom of decline in our democratic
government, or a harbinger of a new, creative management era
where the purported artificial barriers between the governmental
and private sectors are breached as a matter of principle."

A copy of the CRS report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both
Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics," updated May
18, 2005:

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