In a new report, Prof. Paul Light Opens Path to Improved Government Performance

Professor Paul C. Light

As the next administration takes shape under President-elect Donald Trump, the time could not be better for well-informed insights into “What Americans  Want From Government Reform” – as the title of a new report from NYU Wagner’s Paul Light  puts it.

Published by the Volcker Alliance Inc., the December 2016 report by Professor Light depicts the four major philosophies of what the federal government should deliver and how much reform it needs. In his framing, these pillars include: Dismantlers, who believe in both smaller government and very major reform, and gave Donald Trump his “fierce base” in the election: Priority Setters, who favor bigger government and very major reform, and gave Hillary Clinton her “equally intense base”; Streamliners, who support smaller government and only some reform, and appear to have split between the two candidates; and Reinventors , who favor bigger government and only some reform, and were Clinton’s most loyal supporters.

The report asks what the Dismantlers, Streamliners, Priority Setters and Reinventors believe, how their influence has changed over the past two decades, and what the new administration might do to narrow the sharp divisions between them. 

A distinguished national expert on the federal bureaucracy, Professor Light’s analysis is based on responses from eight public opinion surveys from 1997 to 2016, a deep review of underlying patterns by the Pew Research Center in 2015, and additional research. The divisions he describes “portend further battles as the four philosophical groups fight for majorities in the voting booth and the court of public opinion,” he writes.

Professor Light’s continuing research on how to modernize the federal government for the 21st Century continues to resonate across the political spectrum. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board commended his body of research on government reform in an editorial.

Meanwhile, he published a recent Wall Street Journal  op-ed containing some recommendations of his own.