Terminating Public Programs: An American Political Paradox

Terminating Public Programs: An American Political Paradox

Terminating Public Programs: An American Political Paradox

Terminating Public Programs: An American Political Paradox

Synopsis

Talk about government cutbacks is as common as actual program elimination is rare. Even the most ardent proponents of downsizing government are reluctant to name the programs they have in their sights.

This short and very readable book examines why and when policies or organizations are terminated, how they can be terminated successfully, and what often prevents them from being terminated. The author reviews the literature on termination and a variety of case studies in order to identify the theories of termination that have been supported by research. He advances seven conclusions about program terminations that should be taped to the refrigerator of every social scientist, citizen, and public official committed to achieving a balanced budget by 2002.

Excerpt

Thirty years ago, as a freshman Congressman, I undertook a project to examine the size and scope of the Federal government. A committed proponent of balanced budgets, tax cuts, and a limited bureaucracy, my objective was to compile a list of all the federally operated programs providing assistance to the American public.

Little did I know how massive and challenging that project would be. As my staff and I made countless telephone calls, searched government manuals, Federal Registers, and Congressional Records, as we wrote letter after letter, and even searched the government-listings pages of public telephone books, we discovered two things: first, that it would be impossible to know exactly how many Federal programs are in existence; and, second, that forces within the government itself did not want such a list compiled.

As I said the day I introduced the "Roth Study" on the floor of Congress, my staff and I found that the Federal government itself did not possess enough information on all its programs to allow our study--which took eight dedicated months--to assemble a comprehensive list. We found that there was not enough information for the Federal government to make even reasonable comparisons of one program with another, or to prevent costly and inefficient duplications.

We found many instances where cabinet departments and agencies had programs devoted to the same general activities--and that there was no way to cross-reference them, no way to compare the programs . . .

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