The Clinton Legacy

By Colin Campbell; Bert A. Rockman | Go to book overview

6 A Reinvented Government, or the Same Old Government?

JOEL D. ABERBACH

The Clinton administration has worked hard to make its mark on the executive branch. From its efforts to make the higher reaches of the federal government "look like America," to its well-publicized campaign to reinvent government, the federal executive has been a focal point of Bill Clinton's administration. Few, other than public administration scholars, would ordinarily look to such arcane areas as personnel administration or government management in discussing an administration's accomplishments, but these have been major areas of activity and emphasis during the Clinton presidency. Together with Clinton's use of many of the techniques of the "administrative presidency" to control policy, they are a part of the Clinton presidential legacy that scholars will discuss and analyze for years to come.

While this chapter focuses on the administrative side of Clinton's presidency, administration and politics are inextricably linked, especially at the highest levels of government. The Clinton administration's interest in government personnel and management is connected to its political goals and needs. Diversity, something President Clinton is clearly committed to, is also a way for a Democratic president to shore up the party's (and his own) political base among women and minorities. In addition, it helps legitimate implementation of a more conservative "New Democrat" agenda, something Clinton has also endorsed (if not always acted on consistently) from the beginning of his quest for the presidency.

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