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Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions

Beryl A. Radin

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Series: Public Management and Change series


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

FOR MOST AUTHORS THE PROCESS OF WRITING A BOOK PROVIDES AN interesting story. But this book had unusual origins and a path that was often bittersweet....

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pp. 1-5

THIS IS A BOOK THAT IS LIKELY TO STIR HEATED DEBATE IN SOME PARTS OF the public management community in terms of both substance and methodological approach. It emphasizes problems and limitations that have emerged from a path and agenda that represent some core beliefs of the ...

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CHAPTER 1: The Background

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pp. 6-21

IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT THE US PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION FIELD DURING the twentieth and now the twenty-first centuries has emerged with a strong interest in management reform. Growth in the role of government in the American society during this period has provoked attention to the way that ...

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CHAPTER 2: Public/Private Management Relationships

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pp. 22-38

ONE OF THE CONSTANT THEMES IN THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION literature revolves around the debate about the relationship between public management and private management.1 This topic is found throughout the history of the academic public administration field, and the debate about ...

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CHAPTER 3: Political Structures Matter

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pp. 39-56

AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GLOBALIZATION IS ONE OF THE DISTINCT changes that has occurred in the public administration/management field over the past two decades. Developments in technology and travel opportunities over these years have almost erased the boundary lines between domestic ...

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CHAPTER 4: Contracting Out: A-76

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pp. 57-75

THE FEDERAL MANAGEMENT REFORM EFFORT THAT DEALS MOST DIRECTLY with the relationship between the public and private sectors is found in circular A-76, issued originally as an executive order by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966. While this is the official pronouncement that has served as ...

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CHAPTER 5: Personnel Policy Reform

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pp. 76-93

MOST OF THE REFORM AREAS THAT ARE INCLUDED IN THIS BOOK RARELY provoke the interest of the general population, and few make the headlines of daily newspapers or coverage on nightly network news. But personnel policy reform is an exception to this pattern. It is common for Americans to ...

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CHAPTER 6: Reorganization as Reform

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pp. 94-113

YEARS AGO HAROLD SEIDMAN INTRODUCED HIS BOOK ON FEDERAL ORGANIZATION by writing: “Reorganization has become almost a religion in Washington. . . . Reorganization is deemed synonymous with reform and reform with progress. Periodic reorganizations are prescribed if for no other purpose ...

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CHAPTER 7: Budgeting as Reform

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pp. 114-130

THERE IS PERHAPS NO OTHER REFORM AREA THAT MORE DRAMATICALLY illustrates the difference between a parliamentary system and the US system of shared powers than the budget process. For years I would be asked the same question by Australian friends when the US president released his ...

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CHAPTER 8: Reform in Federalism Intergovernmental Relations

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pp. 131-147

IT IS SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL TO FIND A DISCUSSION OF FEDERALISM AND intergovernmental relations (IGR) included as one of the topics in the management reform portfolio. But the debate over these issues illustrates a number of the elements that are found in other reform issues and discussed ...

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CHAPTER 9: Performance Measurement

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pp. 148-164

EFFORTS TO INTRODUCE PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT PROCESSES INTO the federal government can be viewed both as ends in themselves as well as means to other management reform goals. Performance measurement activities have been linked in one way or another to other reform efforts discussed ...

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CHAPTER 10: Living with Contradictions

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pp. 165-180

THIS DISCUSSION OF SIX DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT REFORM EFFORTS IN THE US federal system indicates that there is a variety of approaches that make up the management reform portfolio. Each of the efforts discussed in this book—budgeting, reorganization, personnel management, contracting, ...


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pp. 181-190

About the Author

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pp. 191-192


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pp. 193-205

E-ISBN-13: 9781589018938
E-ISBN-10: 1589018931
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589018921
Print-ISBN-10: 1589018923

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 1 figure, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Public Management and Change series
Series Editor Byline: Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 782879894
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions

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Subject Headings

  • Administrative agencies -- United States -- Management.
  • Civil service reform -- United States.
  • Public administration -- United States.
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