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Reinventing Government

A Fifth-Year Report Card

By Donald F. Kettl

As the Clinton administration marks the fifth anniversary of its “reinventing government” campaign, what has it produced? This report, one of Brookings’ continuing analyses of management reform, examines the content and accomplishments of reinventing government, as well as the missing pieces it has yet to tackle. Reinventing government has often been presented as a revolution in government management. In truth it is less a revolutionary than an evolutionary movement. To its great credit, reinventing government has evolved to the point that it has recognized the central dilemma: redefining accountability for performance in the many programs where government’s partners share responsibility for performance. However, reinventing government has yet to develop or implement strategies to solve this problem. For that matter, though, it is a problem bedeviling government reformers around the world. If the answers are as yet unclear, the question at least is the right one. It is the question ensuring that, whoever is elected president in 2000, reinventing government in some form must continue.

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