GIVEN THE CONSTRAINTS on the managers of public agencies, it is a wonder that there is any management at all. Managers are supposed to coordinate the work of operators in order to attain organizational goals. For managers to do this properly the goals must be known, the work must contribute to their attainment, and the powers of the managers must be sufficient to produce the needed coordination. I trust that the preceding chapters will have persuaded the reader that these conditions rarely are met in public agencies; often, goals are hopelessly vague, activities sadly ineffectual, and powers sharply limited.
Nonetheless, managers do make things happen. When people call the police, the police (usually) come; when children go to school, teachers are there with study plans in hand; when forest fires break out, forest rangers respond; when workers retire, Social Security checks start arriving; when soldiers are ordered into combat, they fight. Even in Watertown, a person who waits in line long enough at the Registry will get a driver's license.
If you believe that all bureaucrats are wholly self-interested individuals desirous only of maximizing their own welfare, much of this should never happen. Why shouldn't a schoolteacher avoid work by letting the students play games or loaf in class? Most students have little incentive to complain to their parents that they are having fun instead of studying hard, and even if they do complain the school administrators can only with great difficulty fire the teacher or lower the teacher's salary. Why shouldn't soldiers run instead of fight? Their desertion will be known only to officers near enough to the scene of combat to have an understandable desire to run as well. Why shouldn't police officers ignore the citizen's story about a stolen car? Their superiors have no way of knowing other than from the officers' report whether a car was stolen at all and what, if anything, was