The American people are frustrated with their government-dismayed by a series of high-profile failures (Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown) that seems to just keep getting longer. Yet our nation has a proud history of great achievements: victory in World War II, our national highway system, welfare reform, the moon landing.Book News
We need more successes like these to reclaim government's legacy of competence. In If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, William Eggers and John O'Leary explain how to do it. The key? Understand-and avoid-the common pitfalls that trip up public-sector leaders during the journey from idea to results.
The authors identify pitfalls including:
-The Partial Map Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout project execution
-The Tolstoy Syndrome: Seeing only the possibilities you want to see
-Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation
-The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines
-The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change
At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official, this book will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of democracy.
Eggers, an author and columnist who works in global research for a public-sector industry practice, and O'Leary (Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School), who has worked in the Massachusetts state government, argue that if the US can put a man on the moon, then the government can achieve anything, and that the difference between success and failure is in policy execution. Using a systems perspective, they review about 75 successful and failed government undertakings in the US and abroad to show the steps it takes to successfully bring a large, important public initiative from an idea to results, including lessons learned from policy initiatives, reform, regulation, capital projects, creating new institutions, process and IT initiatives improvement, peacekeeping and defense, and disaster and crisis response like the Challenger and Columbia tragedies, California's electricity reform, immigration reform, the wars on poverty and inflation, wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and the Marshall Plan, and patterns and characteristics of success. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)