The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in an Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisisby David Osborne, Peter Hutchinson
Government is broke. The 2004 federal deficit is the highest in U.S. history. The states have suffered three years of record shortfalls. Cities, counties, and school districts are laying off policemen and teachers, closing schools, and cutting services. But the fiscal pain won't go away, and the bankrupt ideologies of left and right offer little guidance.The
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There is no question today that governments¿at all levels¿are in dire fiscal straits. Years of political maneuvering, wasteful spending, mismanagement, and an economic roller-coaster have taken their toll. While wonderful innovation has been seen in a number of government agencies at the federal, state, and local level, most have a very long way to go. The resistance to change must be overcome if we are to avoid widespread bankruptcy of the very organizations that we, as taxpayers and citizens, rely on for shared services and support. Change is a community effort, not just something to be delegated to a few elected or appointed officials. But the work to be done is akin to hugging a hippopotamus¿especially if the animal doesn¿t want to be hugged! The authors are consultants¿which could be considered good news or bad news. In this case, it¿s good news. They are founder and senior partner of Public Strategies Group, a firm specializing in the field of improving government. Osborne is author of the best-seller, ¿Reinventing Government.¿ These authors have the credentials that cry out how valuable their book might be. The five sections of the book organize their huge volume of information, commentary, and advice: Smarter Budgeting, Smarter Sizing, Smarter Spending, Smarter Management, and Smarter Leadership. Through fifteen chapters the authors describe what¿s been happening, the impact, what changes could¿or should¿be made, and what benefits will result. There are no illustrations in this book¿a few charts; it¿s straight text in page after intriguing page. Tremendous content that can be absorbed in a straight-through read or studied in a reference book fashion. Community leaders will find an incredible amount of material to work with in these pages. The question is how many communities will have sufficiently strong and committed leadership¿political and apolitical¿to overcome the resistance of tradition and self-serving turf protection in order to bring about critically needed change. If you can build the community resources to make the needed improvements, this book will be a real treasure for exploring opportunities and finding wise solutions. As a former city manager, who wrestled with some of these issues 25 years ago, I welcome and applaud this book. Today, as a workforce futurist (author of 'Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People'), I see that we're headed for a train wreck unless something is done. This book is the tool to get started in any government organization.