By (author) Paul Charles Light
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Thickening Government by Paul Charles Light
Book DescriptionGovernment is under enormous pressure to change. Call it reinventing, reengineering, or plain old change, but the mandate remains the same: produce more with less, and satisfy the customer while doing it. Yet, successful reform must involve more than exhortation and slogans. Paul Light argues that a failure to pay attention to the thickening of government over the past half century may doom any reinventing effort. The federal government has never had so many leaders. There are more layers of management between the top and bottom of government, with more administrative units and occupants at each layer. Bill Clinton is further from the frontlines of government than any president in American history. If the past decades are any indication, he will exit a presidency that is even thicker. Light presents a revealing look at how thick the bureaucracy really is, how and why thickening occurs, what difference it might make, and what can be done to both reverse the process and keep the thickening from growing back. Light shows how the management layers between the top and bottom of government--between air traffic controllers and the Secretary of Transportation, food inspectors and the Secretary of Agriculture, and so on--have steadily increased. In 1960, for example, John F. Kennedy's senior-most appointments came in four layers: secretary, under secretary, assistant secretary, and deputy assistant secretary. By 1992, the number of layers had tripled. In the meantime, the number of occupants at each layer grew geometrically; the number of assistant secretaries jumped from 81 to 212. A government of managers means the president has very little direct access or control over what happens far below, a basic problem of accountability. Information gets distorted on the way up, and guidance gets lost on the way down. Thickening often creates so many bureaucratic baffles that no one can be held accountable for any decision; mid-level workers may have so many bosses that they effectively have none. Light concludes that practically nothing by way of quality management, service-government, or employee involvement can work with these towering government agencies. But practically nothing will fail if a radical "down- layering" is undertaken now.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780815752493
(229mm x 152mm x 16mm)
Imprint: Brookings Institution
Publisher: Brookings Institution
Publish Date: 1-Jan-1995
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Paul Charles Light
Four Pillars of High Performance, Hardback (February 2005)
Offers methods for hardening your organization against the risks of an uncertain future. This book helps you learn how to maintain a competitive edge in a competitive global economy. It offers various instructive case studies and extracts the four key traits common to robust organizations: Alertness; Agility; Adaptability; and, Alignment.
Pathways to Nonprofit Excellence, Paperback (February 2002)
Fourth in a series of reports on the changing nature of public service in government and the nonprofit sector, Pathways to Excellence focuses on a unique survey of contemporary thinking about creating effective nonprofit organizations.
President's Agenda, Paperback (December 1998)
Although there are important differences between the two Presidents, not the least of which is Bush's high proportion of small-scale, old ideas, the two share a pronounced tendency to look backward for inspiration rather than forward."-from the Preface
Tides of Reform, Paperback (October 1998)» View all books by Paul Charles Light
Since 1945, the Congresses and Presidents of the United States have made many efforts to improve the performance of the federal government. This text examines the most important reform statutes passed and concludes that the problem is not too little reform but too much.
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