Offshoring of Services: An Overview of the Issues

GAO-06-5 Published: Nov 28, 2005. Publicly Released: Nov 28, 2005.
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Much attention has focused on the "offshoring" of services to lower-wage locations abroad. Offshoring generally refers to an organization's purchase of goods or services from abroad that were previously produced domestically. Extensive public debate has arisen about both the potential benefits of services offshoring, such as lower consumer prices and higher U.S. productivity, as well as the potential costs, such as increased job displacement for selected U.S. workers. In response to widespread congressional interest, GAO conducted work under the Comptroller General's authority to help policy makers better understand the potential impacts and policy implications of services offshoring. This report: (1) provides an overview of experts' views on the potential impacts of services offshoring, (2) describes the types of policies that have been proposed in response to offshoring, and (3) highlights some key areas where additional research might help advance the debate about offshoring. In its comments, the Department of Commerce generally agreed with the findings of this report. Commerce, Treasury, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative also provided technical comments that have been incorporated as appropriate.

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