The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with BothGovernment and Private Sector Legal Characteristics
This report provides an overview of federally related entities that possess legalcharacteristics of both the governmental and private sectors. These hybridorganizations (e.g., Fannie Mae, National Park Foundation, In-Q-Tel), collectivelyreferred to in this report as the “quasi government,” have grown in number, size, andimportance in recent decades.A brief review of executive branch organizational history is followed by adescription of entities with ties to the executive branch, although they are not“agencies” of the United States as defined in Title 5 of the
. Severalcategories of quasi governmental entities are defined and discussed: (1) quasi officialagencies, (2) government-sponsored enterprises (GSE), (3) federally funded researchand development corporations, (4) agency-related nonprofit organizations, (5)venture capital funds, (6) congressionally chartered nonprofit organizations, and (7)instrumentalities of indeterminate character.The quasi government, not surprisingly, is a controversial subject. Tosupporters of this trend toward greater reliance upon hybrid organizations, the properobjective of governmental management is to maximize performance and results,however defined. In their view, the private and governmental sectors are alike intheir essentials, and thus subject to the same economically derived behavioral norms.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 hybridorganizations as contributing to a weakened capacity of government to perform itsfundamental constitutional duties, and to an erosion in political accountability, acrucial element in democratic governance. They tend to consider the governmentaland private sectors as being legally distinct, with relatively little overlap in behavioralnorms.Congress is increasingly engaged with the quasi government. The issues run thegamut from enacting legislation to encourage the creation of nonprofit organizationsto promote individual national parks, to proposals to strengthen regulation of government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae, to oversight hearingsrespecting national security issues at Los Alamos Laboratory. There is nothingmodest about the size, scope, and impact of the quasi government.Time will tell whether the emergence of the quasi government is to be viewedas a symptom of decline in our democratic government, or a harbinger of a new,creative management era where the purportedly artificial barriers between thegovernmental and private sectors are breached as a matter of principle.This report will be updated at the beginning of each Congress.