Sharing Power: Public Governance and Private Markets

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Brookings Institution Press, Jul 1, 2011 - Business & Economics - 234 pages

In the flush of enthusiasm to make government work better, reformers from both left and right have urged government to turn as many functions as possible over to the private sector and to allow market competition instill efficiency and choice. In fact, government has been doing just this for years: every major policy initiative launched since World War II has been managed by public-private partnerships. Yet such privatization has not solved government's problems. While there have been some positive results, thee has been far less success than advocates of market competition have promised.

In a searching examination of why the "competition prescription" has not worked well, Donald F. Kettl finds that government has largely been a poor judge of private markets. Because government rarely operates in truly competitive markets contracting out has not so much solved the problems of inefficiency, but has aggravated them. Government has often not proved to be an intelligent consumer of the goods and services it has purchased. Kettl provides specific recommendations as to how government can become a "smart buyer," knowing what it wants and judging better what it has bought.

Through detailed case studies, Kettl shows that as market imperfections increase, so do problems in governance and management. He examines the A-76 program for buying goods and services, the FTS-2000 telecommunications system, the Superfund program, the Department of Energy's production of nuclear weapons, and contracting out by state and local governments. He argues that government must be more aggressive in managing contracts if it is to build successful partnerships with outside contractors.

Kettl maintains that the answer is not more government, but a smarter one, which requires strong political leadership to refocus the bureaucracy's mission and to change the bureaucratic culture.

 

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For those of us who love to solve the problems of government, Donald Kettl's book on Sharing Power, has shortened our struggle from a bottle of brandy to one round of drinks. Kettl is not an advocate of more government or smaller government, but in smarter government. He points out that reformers from the left and the right agree that we need a partnership between public and private sector managers. But admits that the government has failed as judges over the facility and economy of products and services. 

Selected pages

Contents

The Competition Prescription
1
The Hidden Growth of PublicPrivate Partnerships
6
Private Markets
14
Public Interests
17
The Myth of the SelfGoverning Market
20
Government and Markets
21
The Contracting Relationship
22
Different Markets Different Problems
29
Controlling the Market
105
Program Oversight
116
Agency Cultures
122
An Imperfect Marketplace
126
Nuclear Weapons Production Bombs and Bomb Makers
129
Trouble at Rocky Flats
134
Changing the Bureaucratic Culture
146
The Intelligence of Government
152

Sharing Power
37
The A76 Program Logistics and Libraries
41
Devising a Competitive Process
43
The Fruits of Competition
46
Contracting Out and Government Employees
58
The Government as Buyer
62
The FTS2000 System Federal Telecommunications
67
The Problem of Competition
68
Competition in Contracting
72
Administering the Contract
85
Managing Market Competition
94
Superfund Red Ice and Purple Dogs
99
Negotiating Market Behavior
101
Contracting Out in State and Local Governments
155
The Evidence on State and Local Contracting
157
Contracting Out for Social Services
165
Accountability in Service Networks
175
The SmartBuyer Problem
179
The Government as Smart Buyer
180
Mutual Dependence
182
Management Issues for Contracting
193
Managing Versus Governing
199
Coping with Uncertainty
202
Governing through Leadership
211
Index
213
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