The End of Government . . . As We Know It: Making Public Policy Work
Book, Lynne Rienner Publishers
Author: Elaine Kamarck, Lecturer in Public Policy
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
In the last decades of the twentieth century, many political leaders declared that government was, in the words of Ronald Reagan, "the problem, not the solution." But on closer inspection, argues Elaine Kamarck, the revolt against government was and is a revolt against bureaucracy—a revolt that has taken place in first world, developing, and avowedly communist countries alike.
To some, this looks like the end of government. Kamarck, however, counters that what we are seeing is the replacement of the traditional bureaucratic approach with new models more in keeping with the information age economy. The End of Government explores the emerging contours of this new, postbureaucratic state—the sequel to government as we know it—considering: What forms will it take? Will it work in all policy arenas? Will it serve democratic ideals more effectively than did the bureaucratic state of the previous century? Perhaps most significantly, how will leadership be redefined in these new circumstances?
Kamarck's provocative work makes it clear that, in addition to figuring out what to do, today's government leaders face an unprecedented number of options when it comes to how to do things. The challenge of government increasingly will be to choose an implementation mode, match it to a policy problem, and manage it well in the postbureaucratic world.
Elaine C. Kamarck is lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Previously, she was a senior policy adviser to the Clinton administration and a political columnist for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She is coeditor, with Joseph S. Nye, Jr., of Governance.com: Democracy in the Information Age.
Praise for The End of Government...As We Know It:
"[An] excellent summary of the transformation of public management over the past 50 years.... Well written, interesting, and quite insightful."—Steven Cohen, Political Science Quarterly
"An indispensable short guide showing how the bureaucratic government of the 20th century is being transformed into the enabling government of the 21st, operating through networks and markets rather than traditional command and control methods."—Vernon Bogdanor, Financial Times
"A plain-spoken, serious-minded plethora of twenty-first century solutions to problems compounded by bureaucratic quagmires left over from the twentieth century. Highly recommended, especially for anyone active in local, state, or federal government."—Midwest Book Review
"Elaine Kamarck shows us what we can expect if we want to go beyond the tired rhetoric of left and right to create a government capable of dealing with all the new challenges of this new century. She has had more practical experience with this challenge...than anyone else in the world."—Al Gore, former vice president of the United States
"This important book examines how bureaucracy can be updated to deal with the quickly evolving demands of the twenty-first century and also uses real-world examples to help us understand how new alternatives can best be applied."—Richard W. Waterman, University of Kentucky
"Kamarck properly emphasizes the crucial importance of implementation for achieving results and makes clear that there are alternatives to creating yet another bureaucracy, shuffling the boxes on the organization chart, or creating another layer of management. Any member of Congress who takes congressional oversight seriously—and shouldn't they all?—would certainly benefit from reading this book."—James Davis, Washington University in St. Louis
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Document Length: 157 pp.