Making Washington Work: Tales of Innovation in the Federal Government / Edition 1

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Everybody knows federal agencies are brain-dead leviathans. Everybody knows that the watchword of federal management is "that's the way we've always done it." Everybody knows that any creativity within American government shows up only in the cities and states. Everybody's wrong.

In 1995 the Ford Foundation's annual "Innovation in American Government" award competition was opened up to federal candidates and a third of the winners since then have been federal institutions. This book profiles the 14 federal award winners from 1995 to 1998 and challenges the conventional wisdom about the federal bureaucracy's capacity to adapt. Examples include the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which figured out how to identify and act upon business and government's shared stake in keeping dangerous products out of consumers' hands; and the Wage and Hour inspectors in the Labor Department, who deployed market leverage to put pressure on the garment-industry scofflaws whose sweatshops had evaded conventional enforcement.

The stories show how pressure, promises, and professional pride can galvanize federal managers and front-line workers to overcome what are admittedly imposing impediments to change, and persevere with new ways to deliver on their missions. And they illustrate the unfashionable truth that innovation is within Washington's repertoire after all.

Copublished with the Council for Excellence in Government

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Editorial Reviews

In 1995 the Innovations in American Government Program was opened up for federal agencies to compete, and approximately one-third of all winners have been at the national level. Donahue (public policy, Harvard U.) profiles the 14 award winning federal programs, which include a speedy recall process involving the cooperation of federal regulators and the firms they oversee at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a sweat-shop busting policy at the Department of Labor; and the makeover of the Bureau of Reclamations in the Department of the Interior. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815718956
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 236
  • Lexile: 1430L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

John D. Donahue is the Raymond Vernon Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. His books include Collaborative Governance: Private Roles for Public Goals in Turbulent Times (Princeton University Press), written with Richard J. Zeckhauser.

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Table of Contents

1 Jamming in the Symphony 1
2 Fast Track Product Recall 19
3 Transforming Military Supply 34
4 Shutting Down Sweatshops 47
5 Collecting Taxes by Telephone 59
6 Banishing Chlorofluorocarbons 71
7 Boosting Legal Hiring 83
8 Sharing Tricks to Pare Costs 93
9 Reclaiming Relevance 104
10 Motivating Job Safety 114
11 Collaborative Stewardship 128
12 Reforging the Community Connection 145
13 Getting New Drugs on the Market 159
14 Rebuilding Disaster Management 174
15 Keeping Pensions Secure 187
Index 205
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