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Use it or lose it

Fahad Khalil, Doyoung Kim and Jacques Lawarree

Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2019, vol. 21, issue 6, 991-1016

Abstract: We examine the optimality of budget policies imposed by a funding authority on a bureaucrat who operates under a fixed budget. In particular, we study a “use‐it‐or‐lose‐it” (UILI) policy under which the bureaucrat has to return any unspent budget without being able to “roll over” any part to the next period. Instead of returning the unspent budget, the bureaucrat can go on a spending spree and engage in policy drift, which is inversely related to his motivation. The bureaucrat's motivation represents how well matched he is with the bureaucracy's mission. We show that a UILI policy is complementary to motivation as it has stronger ex ante positive incentive effects on more motivated bureaucrats. Such ex ante positive effects can overcome the ex post inefficiency of the policy and make a UILI policy optimal when the bureaucrat is well matched with the bureaucracy's mission or when its budget is large.

Date: 2019
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:21:y:2019:i:6:p:991-1016

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