The Tides of Reform: Making Government Work, 1945-1995

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9780300069877: The Tides of Reform: Making Government Work, 1945-1995
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Paul Light explains that Congress and the presidency have never decided whether they trust government and its employees to do their jobs well, and so they have moved back and forth over the decades between four reform philosophies: scientific management, war on waste, watchful eye, and liberation management. These four philosophies, argues Light, operate with different goals, implementation strategies, and impacts. Yet reform initiatives draw on one or another of them almost at random, often canceling out the potential benefits of a particular statute by passing a contradictory statute soon afterward. Light shows that as the public has become increasingly distrustful of government, the reform agenda has favored the war on waste and watchful eye. He analyzes the consequences of these changes for the overall performance of government and offers policy recommendations for future reform approaches.

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This volume comes at a time when scholars and those involved in government reform are questioning the impact of the "reinvention" movement and its declining momentum. Light, director of the Public Policy Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, persuasively argues here that bureaucratic reform movements often contain conflicting values and goals that often lead to counterproductive actions. As examples, he points out that reform efforts in U.S. government since World War II have been guided by scientific management, war of waste, watchful eye, and liberation management philosophies. His volume should be required reading for students of politics and public administration and will be enlightening for those concerned about the government's effectiveness.?William L. Waugh, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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