Paul C. Light is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. His many books include Driving Social Change: How to Solve the World's Toughest Problems and A Government Ill Executed: The Decline of the Federal Service and How to Reverse It. He is also a coauthor of Government by the People, now in its 24th edition.
Monitoring Government offers the first systematic evaluation of the offices of inspector general OIGs and examines the government-wide investment in the IG concept. Despite their increasingly prominent, often controversial, role in the internal oversight of government, very little is known about their institutional or operational problems. To some in the executive branch, OIGs exercise too much discretion at the expense of executive control. To others in Congress, they do not have enough autonomy and responsibility. Overall the question is not only how the OIGs have functioned, but also what role they soundly play in our system of separation of powers.
Paul Light begins with a brief history of the IG concept, from the passage of the 1978 IG Act to the changes in mission with new administrations. He explains the different approaches to accountability, discusses the nature of monitoring the political incentives surrounding findings and recommendations made by IGs, and looks at the dominance of compliance monitoring as the front line against fraud, waste, and abuse.
The book addresses a number of specific issues regarding the policing of government. Using detailed interviews with past IGs and senior-level officials across government, as well as a case study of the Housing and Urban Development scandal, Lights examines a series of specific operational issues. Envisioning a broader role for the IG in the future, he offers recommendations to strengthen the search for accountability.
This important new book illustrates how to create the social breakthroughs needed to solve urgent global threats such as poverty, disease, and hunger. It then turns to three alternative, but complementary, paths to social breakthrough: social protecting, social exploring, and social advocacy, providing a detailed map of the journey from initial commitment to a world of justice and opportunityExamines the current condition of the social impact infrastructure Offers strategies for how to remedy the steady weakening of our social-impact infrastructure Provides tactics to build strong social organizations and networks Illustrates dynamic methods to respond to constant economic and social change
Author Paul Light believes we should be less concerned about the tools of agitation (social entrepreneurship, social protecting, social exploring, and social advocacy) and more concerned about the disruption and replacement of the status quo. Timely in its urgency, this book describes the revolutionary social impact cycle, which provides a new approach for framing the debate about urgent threats.
All job offers being equal, Light argues that the pay increase would matter. But all offers are not equal. Light's research on what graduates of the top public policy and administration graduate programs want indicates that the federal government is usually so far behind its private and nonprofit competitors that pay never comes into play.
Light argues that the federal government is losing the talent war on three fronts. First, its hiring system for recruiting talent, top to bottom, underwhelms at almost every task it undertakes. Second, its annual performance appraisal system is so inflated that federal employees are not only all above average, they are well on their way to outstanding. Third and most importantly, the federal government is so clogged with needless layers and convoluted career paths that it cannot deliver the kind of challenging work that talented Americans expect.
None of these problems would matter, Light argues, if the government-centered public service was still looking for work. Unfortunately, as Light's book demonstrates, federal careers were designed for a workforce that has not punched since the 1960s, and certainly not for one that grew up in an era of corporate downsizing and mergers. The government-centered public service is mostly a thing of the past, replaced by a multisectored public service in which employees switch jobs and sectors with ease.
Light concludes his book by offering the federal government a simple choice: It can either ignore the new public service and troll further and further down the class lists for new recruits, while hoping that a tiny pay increase will help, or it can start building the kind of careers that talented Americans want.