Governance

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It
Brookings Institute, Center for Effective Public Management, Washington D.C., July 2014.

Light, Paul C.
07/14/2014

In this research paper, Paul C. Light writes that the “first step in preventing future failures is to find a reasonable set of past failures that might yield lessons for repair.” To meet this goal, Light asks four key questions about past federal government failures: (1) where did government fail, (2) why did government fail, (3) who caused the failures, and (4) what can be done to fix the underlying problems?

Three-Part Harmony

Three-Part Harmony
Public Administration Review. Volume 74 (January/February 2014) pp 112-113. doi: 10.1111/puar.12167

Glied, Sherry and Schachter, D.R.
02/21/2014

This is a commentary to an article in Public Administration Review about Danish public service employee motivation. The piece that we commented on noted that there are two dimensions for how Danish public service employees can choose to do their work, and that these motivations can shift over time: the author identified public service work being done either through direct service production/delivery or through service regulation/policy. Almost all possible public service jobs in Denmark are in governmental agencies.

How States Stand to Gain or Lose Federal Funds by Opting In or Out of the Medicaid Expansion

How States Stand to Gain or Lose Federal Funds by Opting In or Out of the Medicaid Expansion
The Commonwealth Fund Vol 32, December 2013

Sherry Glied and Stephanie Ma
12/05/2013

Following the Supreme Court's decision in 2012, state officials are now deciding whether to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. While the states' costs of participating in the Medicaid expansion have been at the forefront of this discussion, the expansion has much larger implications for the flow of federal funds going to the states. This issue brief examines how participating in the Medicaid expansion will affect the movement of federal funds to each state. States that choose to participate in the expansion will experience a more positive net flow of federal funds than will states that choose not to participate. In addition to providing valuable health insurance benefits to low-income state residents, and steady sources of financing to state health care providers, the Medicaid expansion will be an important source of new federal funds for states.

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012
Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

Light, Paul
12/03/2013

Surveying the 100 most significant Congressional and presidential investigations of executive branch breakdowns between 1945 and 2012, Paul Light offers insight into those qualities that compose an “investigation done right.” Light’s research provides data into the quantity and quality of investigatory efforts in the modern era, as well as what these patterns reveal about what investigators can do to increase the odds that their work will pay off in improved government performance and more effective public policy.

 

Public Policy Investment: Policy Prioritization and British Statecraft

Public Policy Investment: Policy Prioritization and British Statecraft
Oxford University Press 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-966397-2.

Anthony Bertelli and Peter C. John
11/28/2013

This book addresses one of the enduring questions of democratic government: why do governments choose some public policies but not others? Political executives focus on a range of policy issues, such as the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, but they shift their priorities over time. Despite an extensive literature, it has proven surprisingly hard to explain policy prioritisation. To remedy this gap, this book offers a new approach called public policy investment: governments enhance their chances of getting re-elected by managing a portfolio of public policies and paying attention to the risks involved. In this way, government is like an investor making choices about risk to yield returns on its investments of political capital. The public provides signals about expected political capital returns for government policies, or policy assets, that can be captured through expressed opinion in public polls. Governments can anticipate these signals in the choices they make. Statecraft is the ability political leaders have to consider risk and return in their policy portfolios and do so amidst uncertainty in the public's policy valuation. Such actions represent the public's views conditionally because not every opinion change is a price signal. It then outlines a quantitative method for measuring risk and return, applying it to the case of Britain between 1971 and 2000 and offers case studies illustrating statecraft by prime ministers, such as Edward Heath or Margaret Thatcher. The book challenges comparative scholars to apply public policy investment to countries that have separation of powers, multiparty government, and decentralization.

Government by Investigation: Congress, President, and the Search for Answers, 1945–2012

Government by Investigation: Congress, President, and the Search for Answers, 1945–2012
The Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

Paul Light
10/24/2013

Presidential and congressional investigations are particularly powerful tools for asking tough questions about highly visible, often complex government breakdowns, including: communist infiltration of government 1950s, the Vietnam War during the 1960s, Watergate and Central Intelligence Agency abuses during the 1970s, among 96 others covered in Government by Investigation, by Paul Light. Light, one of America’s premier authorities on public service and management, provides a deep assessment of what he has identified as the federal government’s one hundred most significant investigations since World War II.

 

Democratization and Universal Health Coverage: A comparison of the experiences of Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal

Democratization and Universal Health Coverage: A comparison of the experiences of Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal
Global Health Governance, 6(2): 1-27.

Grépin, Karen and Kim Yi Dionne
09/23/2013

This article identifies conditions under which newly established democracies adopt Universal Health Coverage. Drawing on the literature examining democracy and health, we argue that more democratic regimes – where citizens have positive opinions on democracy and where competitive, free and fair elections put pressure on incumbents – will choose health policies targeting a broader proportion of the population. We compare Ghana to Kenya and Senegal, two other countries which have also undergone democratization, but where there have been important differences in the extent to which these democratic changes have been perceived by regular citizens and have translated into electoral competition. We find that Ghana has adopted the most ambitious health reform strategy by designing and implementing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). We also find that Ghana experienced greater improvements in skilled attendance at birth, childhood immunizations, and improvements in the proportion of children with diarrhea treated by oral rehydration therapy than the other countries since this policy was adopted. These changes also appear to be associated with important changes in health outcomes: both infant and under-five mortality rates declined rapidly since the introduction of the NHIS in Ghana. These improvements in health and health service delivery have also been observed by citizens with a greater proportion of Ghanaians reporting satisfaction with government handling of health service delivery relative to either Kenya or Senegal. We argue that the democratization process can promote the adoption of particular health policies and that this is an important mechanism through which democracy can improve health.

Measuring Agency Attributes with Attitudes Across Time: A Method and Examples Using Large-Scale Federal Surveys

Measuring Agency Attributes with Attitudes Across Time: A Method and Examples Using Large-Scale Federal Surveys
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2013). doi: 10.1093/jopart/mut040

Bertelli, A.M., D.P. Mason, J.M. Connolly, and D.A. Gastwrith
08/28/2013

Public management researchers are interested in many characteristics of organizations that cannot be directly captured, making aggregated attitudes from surveys an attractive proxy. Yet difficulties in measuring meaningful attributes over time and across organizations have frequently limited statistical designs to a single organization or time. We offer a method for creating such statistical measures across agencies and time using item response theory. Focusing our attention on US federal administrative agencies, we marshal a variety of questions from surveys commissioned by the Office of Personnel Management and Merit Systems Protection Board and employ statistical models to measure three important attributes—autonomy, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation—for 71 agencies between 1998–2010. Our study provides a wealth of data for quantitative public management research designs as well as an adaptable framework for measuring a wide range of concepts.

Policy Agendas in British Politics

Policy Agendas in British Politics
Comparative Studies of Political Agendas Series; Palgrave Macmillan August 2013. ISBN 9780230390393.

Peter John, Anthony Bertelli, Will Jennings, Shaun Bevan
08/01/2013

Through a unique dataset covering half a century of policy-making in Britain, this book traces how topics like the economy, international affairs, and crime have changed in their importance to government. The data concerns key venues of decision-making - the Queen's Speech, laws and budgets – which are compared to the media and public opinion. These trends are conveyed through accessible figures backed up by a series of examples of important policies. As a result, the book throws new light on the key points of change in British politics, such as Thatcherism and New Labour and explores different approaches to agenda setting helping to account for these changes: incrementalism, the issue attention cycle and the punctuated equilibrium model. What results is the development of a new approach to agenda setting labelled focused adaptation whereby policy-makers respond to structural shifts in the underlying pattern of attention.

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