Public Organization Review

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 135–153 | Cite as

The U.S. Forest Service and Its Responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act: A Work Design Problem

  • Matthew Auer
  • Kenneth Richards
  • David Seesholtz
  • Burnell Fischer
  • Christian Freitag
  • Joshua Grice


The U.S. Forest Service’s responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act entail a wide range of activities including scoping, scientific analysis, social and economic analysis, managing public input and involvement, media relations, regulatory analysis, and litigation. These myriad duties raise several important organizational and management questions. First, is the U.S. Forest Service capable of discharging these widely varying tasks with high levels of effectiveness and efficiency? To what extent should these activities be outsourced to private contractors or other providers? For those responsibilities retained in-house, what organizational structure best supports their effective and efficient execution? To address these questions, this article draws on concepts from new institutional economics and insights from the privatization and strategic organizational design literatures.


U.S. Forest Service National Environmental Policy Act Make or buy Competitive sourcing 



Jamie Barbour offered helpful comments on prior drafts of this article. Elizabeth Baldwin’s editorial efforts are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Auer
    • 1
  • Kenneth Richards
    • 1
  • David Seesholtz
    • 2
  • Burnell Fischer
    • 1
  • Christian Freitag
    • 1
  • Joshua Grice
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public and Environmental AffairsIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest ServicePacific Northwest Research StationBoiseUSA

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