Consultation may be viewed as a political-bargaining process in which actors seek to maximize at minimal cost expertise, organizational position, and organizational reputation. A view of consultation as political process allows for a shift in language in discussions of consultation. Such a language shift suggests shifts in the social meaning of the consultation process. Emphasis was placed on four suggested functions of consultation: definition and legitimation of a situation or of facts as "problematic"; raising the priority of an issue on the agenda of action in a consultee's agency;legitimation of deviant administrative behavior; and creation and sustenance of interagency linkages. A perspective is proposed that looks at the consequences as well as the intents of the process. This view of consultation can be studied empirically.