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William A. Niskanen (born 1933) is chairman emeritus of the Cato Institute, a position he has held since 1985 following service on President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. He was formerly professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley and UCLA and was an assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Niskanen's most noted work, Bureaucracy and Representative Government published in 1971, made a great impact on the field of public management and strongly challenged the field of public administration in the spirit of Ludwig von Mises' work. The book was for a long time out of print, but was reissued with several additional essays as, William Niskanen, Bureaucracy and Public Economics (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 1994). Niskanen's work has become a central text in Rational Choice models of Bureaucracy. In his work he proposed the budget-maximizing model.

Niskanen received his B.A. and Ph.D in economics from Harvard Universitymarker and the University of Chicagomarker, respectively.

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