Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions

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216 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
ISBN: 9781589018921 (1589018923)

ISBN: 9781589018938

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March 2012
LC: 2011036097

Public Management and Change series


Table of Contents
Press Release

Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions
Beryl A. Radin

Winner of the 2013 Best Book Award of the American Society for Public Administration
Proposals for reform have dotted the federal management landscape in the United States for more than 50 years. Yet these efforts by public management professionals have frequently failed to produce lasting results. In her new book, Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions, renowned public administration scholar Beryl A. Radin reveals what may lie behind the failure of so many efforts at government management reform.

To spur new thinking about this problem, Radin examines three basic sets of contradictions between the strategies of the reformers and the reality of the US federal system: contradictions in the shared powers structure, contradictions in values, and contradictions between politics and administration. She then explores six types of reform efforts and the core beliefs that guided them. The six reform areas are contracting out, personnel policy, agency reorganization, budgeting, federalism policies and procedures, and performance management. The book shows how too often these prescriptions for reform have tried to apply techniques from the private sector or a parliamentary system that do not transfer well to the structure of the US federal system and its democratic and political traditions.

Mindful of the ineffectiveness of a "one-size-fits-all" approach, Radin does not propose a single path for reform, but calls instead for a truly honest assessment of past efforts as today's reformers design a new conceptual and strategic roadmap for the future.
Beryl A. Radin is a member of the faculty at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University. In 2009 she received the H. George Frederickson Award for Lifetime Achievement and Continuous Contributions to Public Management Research from the Public Management Research Association. She is the author of Challenging the Performance Movement: Accountability, Complexity, and Democratic Values and Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Comes of Age.
Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor
"Right on target . . . Those of us working on federal systems issues can heartily endorse her view. . . . All reformers should read this book and think deeply about the implications for their ambitious as they prepare to push that rock up the mountain one more time."—Publius

"This incisive, revelatory book challenges the way in which academics as well as practitioners have tackled the problems associated with public management reform. Radin aptly suggests that, like a computer stuck in a reboot loop, management reform has been treated like an old chestnut, never advancing nor improving because of a failure to account for the problems associated with the implementation of reforms, most prominently those stemming from politics. Radin's book is extraordinarily insightful, and should be required reading in every public administration program."—Norma M. Riccucci, Rutgers University, Newark

"With characteristic insight, Radin examines the tension that exists between administrative reform at the federal level in the United States and the institutional environment within which American bureaucracy must operate. If past is prologue, there is little reason to be optimistic that efforts to improve public administration will be informed either by past experience or sound theoretical premises."—William West, professor and Sara Lindsey Chair, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University

"Essential reading for all who want to understand why public management reform does not always work as intended, but nevertheless continues to attract politicians' and citizens' attention. . . . A thoughtful and well-researched reminder of why politics and reform are bound together. This book places the public management reform agenda in its proper historical perspective, and should be read by scholars and students of public administration as well as interested citizens."—Carsten Greve, professor, Copenhagen Business School

Table of Contents


1. The Background

2. Public/Private Management Relationships

3. Political Structures Matter

4. Contracting Out: A-76

5. Personnel Policy Reform

6. Reorganization as Reform

7. Budgeting as Reform

8. Reform in Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations

9. Performance Measurement

10. Living with Contradictions


About the Author