Deregulating the Public Service: Can Government Be Improved?

By John J. Diiulio Jr. | Go to book overview

8
Deregulating State and Local
Government: What Can
Leaders Do?

Richard P. Nathan

A FRIEND OF MINE who served as the head of a major state agency in two states contrasted the life of a leader in each. One, he said, has rigid personnel and labor management systems that make it extremely difficult to select and deploy top-quality associates and form a leadership team. Other barriers include elaborate regulations on purchasing, contracting, and ethics, rendering the systems user unfriendly for leaders. In the other state, rules for selecting, moving, and removing top agency personnel are much less stringent, and in other ways the life of a leader is far less rigid and rule bound. The point is that state and local governments in the United States vary greatly. This difference offers an ideal beginning for examining the degree to which different regulatory regimes affect the performance of government.


The First Question

Why should government be deregulated? There are many possible reasons. One might believe, for example, that efficiency will be increased and money saved. Another motivation may be that government can be made more effective. There is also the matter of responsiveness; some reinventors of government would argue that the primary objective should be to make state and local government more entrepreneurial to satisfy the customers of government. I view

Frank J. Thompson provided suggestions for this chapter. A number of the ideas advanced here were influenced by colleagues on the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service; however, responsibility for the statements in this chapter is mine alone.

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