Over the last two decades, governments around the world have launched ambitious efforts to reform the way they manage their programs. Citizens in nations like Mongolia and Sweden, New Zealand, and the United States have demanded smaller, cheaper, more effective governments. They have also asked for more programs and better services. To resolve this paradox, governments have experimented with scores of ideas to be more productive, to improve performance, and to reduce costs. In The Global Public Management Revolution, Donald F. Kettl charts the basic models of reform that are being employed worldwide, including New Zealand’s “new public management,” the U.S. effort at “reinventing government,” and related efforts in developed and developing nations.
In reviewing the standard strategies and tactics behind these reforms, Kettl has identified six common core ideas: the search for greater productivity; more public reliance on private markets; a stronger orientation toward service; more decentralization from national to subnational governments; increased capacity to devise and track public policy; and tactics to enhance accountability for results. Kettl predicts that reform and reinvention will likely become mantras for governments of all stripes, requiring the instinct for reform to be hardwired into government practice. Ultimately, this strategy means coupling the reform impulse with governance—government’s increasingly important relationship with civil society and the institutions that shape modern life.
Donald F. Kettl is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also director of the Fels Institute of Government and a professor of political science. Kettl is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including System under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics (CQ Press, 2nd ed., in 2007) and The Global Public Management Revolution (Brookings, 2nd ed., in 2005).