Drug Testing in the Public Sector: An Interpretation Grounded in Rosenbloom's Competing-Perspectives Model



In the last few decades, drug testing has become a major policy issue in the workplace, with a host of actors competing to promote their own needs and interests. Employers, for example, seek ways to combat the use and abuse of illegal substances by employees. At the same time, unions and their employees legitimately seek to limit overly intrusive or unfair methods of testing. The courts have also been major players in the policy arena of drug testing, as witnessed by the surfeit of case law setting parameters around what is and is not legal and constitutional in terms of drug testing.

In an effort to move the drug-testing debate forward, this article examines the competing interests in drug testing, interests that ultimately frustrate the courts, policy makers, employees, and their unions from reaching a consensus on the use of drug tests in the public sector. To systematically examine this issue, Rosenbloom's competing-perspectives model of public administration is applied. The article concludes with policy recommendations for public managers.