This book provides practical and timely guidance to those trying to improve government performance. The focus of successful attempts, the authors argue, should be sustained evolution, not bursts of invention aimed at sweeping transformation. Specific proposals address ways to change government over the long term, ways to streamline bureaucracy, attract more resourceful and innovative workers, and make agencies more responsive to their customers, the citizens.
John J. Dilulio, Jr., Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of politics, religion, and civil society at University of Pennsylvania and a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, was a former assistant to the President and has served as a consultant for the National Institute of Justice and the National Institute of Corrections. He has authored and coauthored numerous books, including What's God Got to Do with the American Experiment? (Brookings, 2000), Body Count: Moral Poverty... and How to Win America's War Against Crime and Drugs (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Inside the Reinvention Machine: Appraising Governmental Reform (Brookings, 1995), Making Health Reform Work: The View from the States (Brookings, 1994), and No Escape: The Future of American Corrections (Basic Books, 1991). Gerald Garvey was a professor of politics at Princeton University. He focused on American politics, public policy, public administration and political theory, writing about these subjects in 11 books and numerous articles. Donald F. Kettl is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also director of the Fels Institute of Government and a professor of political science. Kettl is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including System under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics (CQ Press, 2nd ed., in 2007) and The Global Public Management Revolution (Brookings, 2nd ed., in 2005).
Bardach provides examples from diverse policy areas, including children, youth, and family services; welfare-to-work; antipollution enforcement; fire prevention; and ecosystem management.
New to this Edition:Interviews with two new cabinet secretaries—Christine Todd Whitman and Tom Ridge—with insightful quotes from them throughout the book. Added material on the battle over regulations, a battle that will loom large during the Trump administration, including midnight regulations and the Congressional Review Act. New examples demonstrate the activity and influence of constituencies of different kinds including the placing of women and minorities on US currency, a vignette that features the musical Hamilton, and the political protests surrounding the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. A new discussion of the privatization of roads, the pros and cons.
In this book, Kaufman attempts a detached examination of the subject to find out why something so universally detested flourishes so widely and enjoys such powers of endurance. Part of the explanation is the protean character of the term "red tape"; each of us applies it to our own pet grievances, not realizing that other people's grievances are often quite different from our own. Underlying this variance, however, is a common core of meaning, and the first part of the book identifies that shared understanding.
The second part searches for the origins of the despised phenomenon in the federal government, and finds the source not in a clique of fools or villains, but in all of us. Red tape, according to this analysis, springs largely from the diversity of values to which people in our society subscribe, from the demands on government to which these values give rise, and from the responsiveness of the government to the demands. In this sense, red tape is of our own making.
Consequently, getting rid of it entirely—rewinding the spools, as it were-is a hopeless quest. The major proposals for eliminating it are found wanting in this regard (though there may be other reasons to favor some of these reforms); they may even generate as much red tape as they cut. That being the case, Kaufman concludes that a more fruitful policy would be to concentrate on relieving the worst of red tape's irritants so as to make bearable what we cannot end, and he explores several steps he believes will have this effect.
Although many readers will find this book depressing, most will probably acknowledge the persuasiveness of its argument. And some, like the author, will take heart from the analysis on the grounds that relief measures rooted in reality are much more likely to succeed than proposals for improvement based on delusive optimism and false hope.
In a searching examination of why the "competition prescription" has not worked well, Donald F. Kettl finds that government has largely been a poor judge of private markets. Because government rarely operates in truly competitive markets contracting out has not so much solved the problems of inefficiency, but has aggravated them. Government has often not proved to be an intelligent consumer of the goods and services it has purchased. Kettl provides specific recommendations as to how government can become a "smart buyer," knowing what it wants and judging better what it has bought.
Through detailed case studies, Kettl shows that as market imperfections increase, so do problems in governance and management. He examines the A-76 program for buying goods and services, the FTS-2000 telecommunications system, the Superfund program, the Department of Energy's production of nuclear weapons, and contracting out by state and local governments. He argues that government must be more aggressive in managing contracts if it is to build successful partnerships with outside contractors.
Kettl maintains that the answer is not more government, but a smarter one, which requires strong political leadership to refocus the bureaucracy's mission and to change the bureaucratic culture.