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Description - Making Public Policy by Steven Kelman

A political scientist at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government analyzes how public policy is made in this country,and why the system works so much better than most observers believe.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465043354
ISBN-10: 0465043356
Format: Paperback
(203mm x 137mm x 22mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 20-Sep-1988
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Making Public Policy by Steven Kelman

Book Reviews - Making Public Policy by Steven Kelman

US Kirkus Review » An optimistic reflection upon the state of government policy-making in contemporary America. Kelman (public policy/Harvard) takes off from the seeming malaise in popular views of government operations and challenges the prevalent conception of a government functioning primarily on self-interest. He offers a road map of public policy in the making, which he says operates in roughly five stages: proposals, choices, production, actions, and real-world outcomes. In effect, Kelman insists, this system works fairly well. Why, then, does public dissatisfaction grow apace? There are a lot of reasons, among them: 1/ As in business, most new product introductions fail (approximately one in 58 succeed). But while business is shrouded in secrecy, government operations are in full view. 2/ Since successful policy-making involves, On average, 15 steps, the failure of only one step jeopardizes the entire policy. Mathemathical probability, thus, militates against success. 3/ Since most people tend to feel self-righteous about their cause, failure tends to direct blame toward the process itself. 4/ Government is highly visible, causing the failure of a particular program to appear as the failure of government in its entirety. 5/ The founders made the decision to sacrifice governability for liberty. Consequently, the system itself promotes frustration. Another major reason for the continual decline in public confidence, says Kelman, is that government has simply become so much more prominent in everyone's life. Public frustrations and resentments grow as a consequence. Kelman's advice? Since real-world outcomes are sometimes not visible until years after implementation, he recommends that participants in the process map out real-world outcomes desired and then work backwards to the sort of policies most likely to produce them. How this differs from the way participants now think is not clear. He also advises mutual respect between the various participants. Easier said than done, though, given human nature. In the end, despite a few points well-taken, Kelman is killed by his own kindness. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Steven Kelman

Steven Kelman is professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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