Since the Unity military supplies would arouse suspicions of bribery and cause the establishment of inquiry commissions that would bring to light episodes of serious maladministration, yet without ever getting at the individuation and punishment of the culprits. One reason for this situation can be found in the wide discretionary power the military offices would reserve for themselves in the management of purchases. With the turn of the twentieth century the demand for armaments by the military ministries increased, as a prelude to the dramatic growth of war production during the Great War, when the unprecedented expansion of military industry was matched by reduced public controls and widespread corruption. Under the Fascist regime the ties between politics and the heavy industry became even stronger and the manufacturers came to impose their ever-increasing power of decision also by cartel accords, while the role of the military in the allowance of contracts underwent a drastic reduction. By considering the corruption topic in the different historical contexts, the A. offers a penetrating insight into the functioning of the particularly delicate sector of public purchase management in its mobile relationships with private business and especially with the war industry.
Keywords: War industry, civil service, bribery, World Wars, public expenditure, parliamentary inquiry commissions