Systematic Thinking for Social Action

Brookings Institution Press
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In January 1970 Alice M. Rivlin spoke to an audience at the University of California-Berkeley. The topic was developing a more rational approach to decisionmaking in government. If digital video, YouTube, and TED Talks had been inventions of the 1960s, Rivlin's talk would have been a viral hit. As it was, the resulting book, Systematic Thinking for Social Action, spent years on the Brookings Press bestseller list. Is is a very personal and conversational volume about the dawn of new ways of thinking about government.

As deputy assistant secretary for program coordination, and later as assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1966 to 1969, Rivlin was an early advocate of systems analysis, which had been introduced by Robert McNamara at the Department of Defense as PPBS (planning-programming-budgeting-system).

While Rivlin brushes aside the jargon, she digs into the substance of systematic analysis and a 'quiet revolution in government. In an evaluation of the evaluators, she issues mixed grades, pointing out where analysts had been helpful in finding solutions and where—because of inadequate data or methods—they had been no help at all.

Systematic Thinking for Social Action offers important insights for anyone interested in working to find the smartest ways to allocate scarce funds to promote the maximum well-being of all citizens.

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About the author

Alice M. Rivlin is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at Brooking, a visiting professor at the Public Policy Institute of Georgetown University, and the director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform. She has served on the President's Debt Commission, was founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and a Federal Reserve vice chair. She is an expert on fiscal and monetary policy.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Mar 24, 2015
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Pages
142
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ISBN
9780815726456
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
Political Science / Public Affairs & Administration
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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The American dream is fading: for nearly two decades, the economy has been performing below par, the quality of life has deteriorated, and the government has not confronted the public problems that concern citizens most. In this provocative book, Alice Rivlin offers a straightforward, nontechnical look at the issues threatening the American dream and proposes a solution: restructure responsibilities between the federal and state government.

Under her plan, the federal government would eliminate most of its programs in education, housing, highways, social services, economic development, and job training, enabling it to move the federal budget from deficit toward surplus. States would pick up these responsibilities, carrying out a "productivity agenda" to revitalize the American economy. Common shared taxes would give the state adequate revenues to carry out their tasks and would reduce intrastate competition and disparities. The federal government would be freer to deal with increasingly complex international issues and would retain responsibility for programs requiring national uniformity. A primary federal job would be the reform of health care financing to ensure control of costs and to mandate basic insurance coverage for everyone.

Published in the summer of 1992, Reviving the American Dream was read by presidential candidate Bill Clinton; by year's end, President Clinton appointed its author, Alice Rivlin, as deputy budget director. Today, the ideal in Rivlin's book—and Rivlin herself—are having an impact inside the administration.

Selected as one of Choice magazine's Outstanding Books of 1993

Winner of the NBCC Award for General Nonfiction

Named on Amazon's Best Books of the Year 2015--Michael Botticelli, U.S. Drug Czar (Politico) Favorite Book of the Year--Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize Economics (Bloomberg/WSJ) Best Books of 2015--Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky (WSJ) Books of the Year--Slate.com's 10 Best Books of 2015--Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015 --Buzzfeed's 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015--The Daily Beast's Best Big Idea Books of 2015--Seattle Times' Best Books of 2015--Boston Globe's Best Books of 2015--St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Books of 2015--The Guardian's The Best Book We Read All Year--Audible's Best Books of 2015--Texas Observer's Five Books We Loved in 2015--Chicago Public Library's Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

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