Deregulating the Public Service: Can Government Be Improved?

Deregulating the Public Service: Can Government Be Improved?

Deregulating the Public Service: Can Government Be Improved?

Deregulating the Public Service: Can Government Be Improved?

Synopsis

The nation's federal, state, and local public service is in deep trouble. Not even the most talented, dedicated, well- compensated, well-trained, and well-led public servants can serve the public well if they must operate under perverse personnel and procurement regulations that punish innovation and promote inefficiency. Many attempts have been made to determine administrative problems in the public service and come up with viable solutions. Two of the most important--the 1990 report of the National Commission on the Public Service, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker, and the 1993 report of the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service, led by former Mississippi Governor William F. Winter--recommended "deregulating the public service." Deregulating the public service essentially means altering or abolishing personnel and procurement regulations that deplete government workers' creativity, reduce their productivity, and make a career in public service unattractive to many,talented, energetic, and public-spirited citizens. But will it work? With the benefit of a historical perspective on the development of American public service from the days of the progressives to the present, the contributors to this book argue that deregulating the public service is a necessary but insufficient condition for much of the needed improvement in governmental administration. Avoiding simple solutions and quick fixes for long-standing ills, they recommend new and large-scale experiments with deregulating the public service at all levels of government. In addition to editor John DiIulio, the contributors are Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, now atPrinceton University; former Mississippi Governor William F. Winter; Gerald J. Garvey, Princeton; John P. Burke, University of Vermont; Melvin J. Dubnick, Rutgers; Constance Horner, former director of the Federal Office of P

Excerpt

Reforming the public service and making government more responsive and efficient has in the past decade become a topic of continuing interest. This interest culminated in reports by three national commissions: the National Commission on the Public Service, led by Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve System, in 1989; the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service, led by William F. Winter, former governor of Mississippi, in 1993; and the National Performance Review, led by Vice President Al Gore in 1993.

These reports called for deregulating the public service by reducing the number and complexity of personnel and procurement regulations under which most federal, state, and local government bureaucracies operate. in this book John J. DiIulio, Jr., and the other contributors examine the problems and prospects of public service deregulation at each level of government, across levels of government, and within particular service sectors. Deregulating the public service, they emphasize, is no magic cure for the long-standing ills of government administration in the United States. But it does represent the best available strategy for improving government performance and renewing public trust in our nation's federal, state, and local civil service systems and administrative practices.

For much of its history the Brookings Institution has been a leader in expanding knowledge about public management. With this volume and other recent books on public administration, it is proud to continue this tradition.

John J. DiIulio, Jr., is professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University and nonresident senior fellow at Brookings. He and the contributors would like to thank Thomas Mann, director . . .

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