Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector

Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector

Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector

Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector


A revolution is stirring in America. People are angry at governments that spend more but deliver less, frustrated with bureaucracies that give them no control, and tired of politicians who raise taxes and cut services but fail to solve the problems we face. Reinventing Government is both a call to arms in the revolt against bureaucratic malaise and a guide to those who want to build something better. It shows that there is a third way: that the options are not simply liberal or conservative, but that our systems of governance can be fundamentally reframed; that a caring government can still function as efficiently and productively as the best-run businesses. Authors Osborne and Gaebler describe school districts that have used choice, empowerment, and competition to quadruple their students' performance; sanitation departments that have cut their costs in half and now beat the private sector in head-to-head competition; military commands that have slashed red tape, decentralized authority, and doubled the effectiveness of their troops. They describe a fundamental reinvention of government already underway- in part beneath the bright lights of Capitol Hill, but more often in the states and cities and school districts of America, where the real work of government goes on. From Phoenix to St. Paul, Washington, D. C. to Washington state, entrepreneurial public managers have discarded budget systems that encourage managers to waste money, scrapped civil service systems developed for the nineteenth century, and jettisoned bureaucracies built for the 1930s. They have replaced these industrial-age systems with more decentralized, more entrepreneurial, more responsive organizations designed for the rapidly changing, information-rich world of the 1990s. Osborne and Gaebler isolate and describe ten principles around which entrepreneurial public organizations are built. They:1) steer more than they row2) empower communities rather than simply deliver services3) encourage competition rather than monopoly4) are driven by their missions, not their rules5) fund outcomes rather than inputs6) meet the needs of the customer, not the bureaucracy7) concentrate on earning, not just spending8) invest in prevention rather than cure9) decentralize authority10) solve problems by leveraging the marketplace, rather than simple creating public programs. Reinventing Government is not a partisan book. It focuses not on what government should do, but on how government should work. As such, it has been embraced by both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.


We have chosen an audacious title for this book. We know that cynicism about government runs deep within the American soul. We all have our favorite epithets: "It's close enough for government work." "Feeding at the public trough." "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." "My friend doesn't work; she has a job with the government."

Our governments are in deep trouble today. This book is for those who are disturbed by that reality. It is for those who care about government--because they work in government, or work with government, or study government, or simply want their governments to be more effective. It is for those who know something is wrong, but are not sure just what it is; for those who have glimpsed a better way, but are not sure just how to bring it to life; for those who have launched successful experiments, but have watched those in power ignore them; for those who have a sense of where government needs to go, but are not quite sure how to get there. It is for the seekers.

If ever there were a time for seekers, this is it. The millennium approaches, and change is all around us. Eastern Europe is free; the Soviet empire is dissolving; the cold war is over. Western Europe is moving toward economic union. Asia is the new center of global economic power. From Poland to South Africa, democracy is on the march.

The idea of reinventing government may seem audacious to those who see government as something fixed, something that does not change. But in fact governments constantly change. At one time, government armories manufactured weapons, and no . . .

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