Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

Reinventing Government: A Preliminary Examination of the Georgia Initiative for Children and Families

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

Reinventing Government: A Preliminary Examination of the Georgia Initiative for Children and Families

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study examines the early efforts and consequences of one effort at "reinventing government:" building collaborative partnerships at the county level. It looks at the early implementation of the Georgia Policy Council for Children and Families Act, an act designed to return decision-making to the local level. The study assesses the potential of this program for improving policy concerning children and families and finds that the devolution of authority to local communities, called for in this act, is working. The study concludes with insights gained concerning what does and does not work in implementing governmental reform.

"The General Assembly finds that the time has come for bold action on behalf of our children. Georgia cannot afford the staggering human and financial costs associated with teenage pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, juvenile crime, low birth weight babies, and poor school performance. The General Assembly finds that a new vision is needed for children and families. "

The Georgia Policy Council for Children and Families Act

INTRODUCTION

Deciding that "the time had come for bold action on behalf of our children," the General Assembly passed The Georgia Policy Council for Children and Families Act in 1995. The act established two principal directions: (1) the new state-level Policy Council is the fulcrum of accountability at the state level and (2) the Council's directive is to look to Georgia's local communities for new ideas to improve Georgia's stewardship of our children and families.

The Council established community partnerships in ten counties as of July 1, 1996 with the goal of eventually establishing such partnerships in each of Georgia's counties. Each county was invited to submit an application. Worth County submitted an application, designating Worth County Community Preservation Collaborative (WCCPC) as the entity in pursuing this partnership. On June 26, 1996, WCCPC was notified that it had been selected as one of the ten initial partners.

This article will examine the early efforts and consequences of the partnership. It will first place this effort within the overall record policy trend sometimes referred to as "reinventing government," examining how this policy fits within the Governor's declared objectives of returning decision-making to the local level, and will then assess the potential of this program for improving policy concerning children and families. In addition to analyzing the literature in this area and analyzing the legislation, the article will draw upon the personal experiences of Brian Marlowe, Executive Director of WCCPC, as a participant observer in the total process. Given the newness of this policy, the article will be a preliminary exploration but should have valuable insights concerning what does and does not work in implementing government reform efforts, illumination that is useful for both students and practitioners of public management everywhere.

GOVERNMENTAL REFORM

Efforts to reform government are as old as government itself and the Government of the United States is no different in that respect. A number of interesting reform efforts occurred during the nineteenth century, perhaps the most notable of which was the Pendleton Act of 1883-a reform with roots firmly in the "Good Government" movement at the state and local level. Reform efforts continued into the next century with the Progressive Era having major successes at the local level. Reform efforts continued through that century with virtually every President makiing governmental reform a key part of his platform. The two "Hoover Commissions" represent major reform efforts. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford each attempted to push additional reforms but with limited success. The main thrust of their reform movements was to centralize power in the White House and their attempts lacked legitimacy. Jimmy Carter campaigned as an outsider-a "new broom" who would sweep Washington clean. …

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