Jorrit de Jong, Brookings Institution Press, 2016
How can we intervene in the systemic bureaucratic dysfunction that beleaguers the public sector? De Jong examines the roots of this dysfunction and presents a novel approach to solving it. Drawing from academic literature on bureaucracy and problem solving in the public sector, and the clinical work of the Kafka Brigade — a social enterprise based in the Netherlands dedicated to diagnosing and remedying bureaucratic dysfunction in practice, this study reveals the shortcomings of conventional approaches to bureaucratic reform. The usual methods have failed to diagnose problems, distinguish symptoms, or identify root causes in a comprehensive or satisfactory way. They have also failed to engage clients, professionals, and midlevel managers in understanding and addressing the dysfunction that plagues them. This book offers conceptual frameworks, theoretical insights, and practical lessons for dealing with the problem. It sets a course for rigorous public problem solving to create governments that can be more effective, efficient, equitable, and responsive to social concerns.
In spring 2009, North Dakota experienced some of the worst flooding in state history. This case describes how the state's National Guard responded by mobilizing thousands of its troops and working in concert with personnel and equipment from six other states as well as an array of federal, state, and local stakeholders. Specifically, after providing background on the North Dakota National Guard and the state's susceptibility to flooding, the case captures how Guard officials developed and practiced a plan ("Operation Rollback Water") to respond to the floods and how they then had to adapt that plan as the crisis escalated and conditions changed. In particular, the Guard had to work with a large amount of federal resources that arrived amid the crisis, it had to respond to demands for extensive and rapid assistance from a range of municipalities, and it had to endure a prolonged event that taxed Guard members in the field and the operations and management team that supported them. The case concludes with an epilogue that describes how the Guard applied the lessons it learned from the 2009 floods in response to a similar disaster in 2011.
Tony Saich, December 2014
A recent survey asks citizens from 30 countries for their views on 10 influential national leaders who have a global impact (see Appendix). There are many rich findings among the data. However, two general trends stand out. The first is that the responses are influenced by geopolitics. Differences between nations and national leaders are clearly reflected in the attitudes of their own citizens. Thus, it is plain that the tensions between China and Japan result in very poor evaluations of China and its leader by Japanese citizens and vice versa. Second, there is a correlation in responses between the nature of the political system and citizen opinions of their own nation’s leader. On the whole, in multiparty systems or genuine two-party systems such as in Europe and the U.S., citizens are more critical of their national leaders and policies than is the case in those nations where politics is less contested.
Using a New Federalism for Unity and Progress in Myanmar
David Dapice and Thomas Vallely, March 2013
When in 2010, the President of the Union of Myanmar, the Speaker of the Lower House and several ministers decided to push for a rapid political opening, they engineered what could be called a critical juncture. This critical juncture now provides the country with an opportunity to move forward, not only with faster economic growth, but also with better quality growth and political change that will unify the nation and create broad progress. In exploring a possible approach toward unity and progress, this paper uses the framework developed in Why Nations Fail, a recent book on economic and political development and also refers to the idea of “illiberal democracy“ articulated by Fareed Zakaria. The basic idea is that a broad coalition of the incumbent party, the democratic opposition, ethnic groups and the military is needed to fundamentally change Myanmar’s past failed orientation. This broad coalition should work for a new federalism in which states (at a minimum) have fairly elected governors and meaningful revenue sources so they can run many of their own affairs. Recognizing that central to real progress is a transition from a repressive, extractive and exclusive political system with crony businesses to a broadly inclusive political system that spreads economic opportunity, the paper argues that broad political and economic change need to go hand in hand.
Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, and Paolo Renzio, Brookings Institution Press, 2013
Decisions about “who gets what, when, and how” are perhaps the most important that any government must make. So it should not be remarkable that around the world, public officials responsible for public budgeting are facing demands – from their own citizenry, other government officials, economic actors, and increasingly from international sources – to make their patterns of spending more transparent and their processes more participatory. Surprisingly, rigorous analysis of the causes and consequences of fiscal transparency is thin at best. Open Budgets seeks to fill this gap in existing knowledge.
Mark H. Moore, Harvard University Press, 2013
Mark H. Moore's now classic Creating Public Value offered advice to public managers about how to create public value. But that book left a key question unresolved: how could one recognize (in an accounting sense) when public value had been created? Here, Moore closes the gap by setting forth a philosophy of performance measurement that will help public managers name, observe, and sometimes count the value they produce, whether in education, public health, safety, crime prevention, housing, or other areas. Blending case studies with theory, he argues that private sector models built on customer satisfaction and the bottom line cannot be transferred to government agencies.
Following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, the Obama administration organized a massive response operation to contain the enormous amount of oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico. Attracting intense public attention and, eventually, widespread criticism, the response adhered to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a federal law that the crisis would soon reveal was not well understood – or even accepted – by all relevant parties. This two-part case profiles the efforts of senior officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as they struggled to coordinate the actions of a myriad of actors, ranging from numerous federal partners (including key members of the Obama White House); the political leadership of the affected Gulf States and sub-state jurisdictions; and the private sector. Case A provides an overview of the disaster and early response; discusses the formation of the National Incident Command (NIC), which had responsibility for directing response activities; and explores the NIC’s efforts to coordinate the actions of various federal entities.