In one of the most important critiques of U.S. government in more than a decade, the 2003 report of the Volcker Commission pulled no punches in describing an underperforming, dysfunctional U.S. government. The commission's report urged improvements in reorganization, leadership, and performance, but stopped short of specifying how to put its recommendations into practice.
In High-Performace Government: Structure, Leadership, Incentives, experts from the RAND Corporation offer practical ways to reorganize and restructure, enhance leadership, and create flexible, performance-driven agencies.
Edited by Robert Klitgaard, Dean and Ford Distinguished Professor of International Development and Security at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and Paul C. Light, Founding Director of the Center for Public Service at the Brookings Institution, High-Performance Government presents an innovative approach for rethinking government.
This book looks at examples of successful reforms and examines what can be learned from them to improve the way our government works. High-Performance Government includes an opening discussion by Robert Klitgaards, the full text of the Volcker Commission report, and a dozen chapters by senior RAND researchers. These chapters discuss how to confront the challenges posed by the changing role and increasing uncertainty of government; restructure under the constraints of structural politics; reorganize the national security apparatus; tailor public-private partnerships to particular needs; reform the system of presidential appointments; enhance leadership and incentives in the civil service; and much more. .
"This volume of essays is RAND's follow-up to the second Volcker Commission. But it is more than that: It presents a bird's-eye view of RAND's perspective on what needs to be done to improve government performance generally. It is important because RAND's work is influential in shaping public policy and influences public managers throughout the United States and abroad. The most significant aspect of this symposium is that it brought together much current thinking about the state of the art of public management… The RAND [researchers] know a great deal and can put what they know into an inviting framework. They are adventurous and venture where others fear to tread. Although they possibly stick too close to the Volcker Commission framework, they go much further afield to describe and explain the latest trends in contemporary American governance, intellectual movements, management theory, statistical findings, research projects, public opinion surveys, academic leanings, business methods, scholastic tools, and international developments. They try to be as current as possible. So whatever they write deserves attention. Hence, this book is an essential companion not just to the 2003 Volcker Commission report but to any study of the federal government and government in general. Every contribution is thought provoking and an education in itself."
—Public Administration Review
“This sometimes sprawling but hugely insightful work is the first significant public management book about performance in the new century. It rivals John Roberts’ The Modern Firm currently regarded by many (this reviewer included) as the best business book thus far on performance in the 21st century.”
—The Public Manager
"'High-Performance Government' is worthy of attentive reading because it plunges right into the heart of the debates on government reform. [Its] contribution is evading a naïve rationalism and simplification that would arise from the benchmarking of the private sector as a source of truth for the state, and instead be built from what the anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls a 'size-up-and-solve social science': a social science of evaluation and resolution."