Thickening Government

Thickening Government

by Paul C. Light
     
 

ISBN-10: 0815752490

ISBN-13: 9780815752493

Pub. Date: 01/10/1995

Publisher: Brookings Institution Press

Government is under enormous pressure to change. Call it reinventing, reengineering, or plain old change, but the mandate remains the same: produce more with less, and satisfy the customer while doing it. Yet, successful reform must involve more than exhortation and slogans. Paul Light argues that a failure to pay attention to the thickening of government over

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Overview

Government is under enormous pressure to change. Call it reinventing, reengineering, or plain old change, but the mandate remains the same: produce more with less, and satisfy the customer while doing it. Yet, successful reform must involve more than exhortation and slogans. Paul Light argues that a failure to pay attention to the thickening of government over the past half century may doom any reinventing effort. The federal government has never had so many leaders. There are more layers of management between the top and bottom of government, with more administrative units and occupants at each layer. Bill Clinton is further from the frontlines of government than any president in American history. If the past decades are any indication, he will exit a presidency that is even thicker. Light presents a revealing look at how thick the bureaucracy really is, how and why thickening occurs, what difference it might make, and what can be done to both reverse the process and keep the thickening from growing back. Light shows how the management layers between the top and bottom of government—between air traffic controllers and the Secretary of Transportation, food inspectors and the Secretary of Agriculture, and so on—have steadily increased. In 1960, for example, John F. Kennedy's senior-most appointments came in four layers: secretary, under secretary, assistant secretary, and deputy assistant secretary. By 1992, the number of layers had tripled. In the meantime, the number of occupants at each layer grew geometrically; the number of assistant secretaries jumped from 81 to 212. A government of managers means the president has very little direct access or control over what happens far below, a basic problem of accountability. Information gets distorted on the way up, and guidance gets lost on the way down. Thickening often creates so many bureaucratic baffles that no one can be held accountable for any decision; mid-level workers may have so many bosses that they effectively have none. Light concludes that practically nothing by way of quality management, service-government, or employee involvement can work with these towering government agencies. But practically nothing will fail if a radical "down- layering" is undertaken now.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815752493
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
01/10/1995
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)
Lexile:
1480L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1How Thick Is Government?1
The Principles of Administration1
The Changing Shape of Government6
Growth Industries18
Ch. 2Why Did Government Thicken?32
Lessons of History34
The Orthodoxy of Thickening36
Into the Present47
Ch. 3Does Thickening Matter?61
The Diffusion of Accountability62
Three Measures of Consequence73
Ch. 4Where Does Thickening Start?96
The Roots of Thickening98
Hidden Roots of Thickening119
Ch. 5How Does Thickening Endure?129
How New Positions Are Created131
Why Positions Spread147
Ch. 6Can Thickening Be Stopped?166
A Brief Review167
What to Do about Thickening171
Appendix: The Core Tables183
The Sources183
The Caveats185
Notes193
Index211

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