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Good Enough for Government WorkThe Public Reputation Crisis in America (And What We Can Do to Fix It)$
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Amy E. Lerman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226630175

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226630342.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2020

Good Government and Good Governing

Good Government and Good Governing

Chapter:
(p.213) Twelve Good Government and Good Governing
Source:
Good Enough for Government Work
Author(s):

Amy E. Lerman

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226630342.003.0012

This chapter discusses the history of good government reforms in the United States. What we can learn from this history is that it is not enough to cut the costs of government. To improve performance and rebuild public trust, it is necessary also to invest in people—to prioritize not just good (read: cheap) government but good governance. If we learn anything by studying the public reputation crisis, it is that quick cost-cutting gains are not always beneficial in the long run; indeed, what is best for short-term efficiency and what is best for long-term efficacy can sometimes conflict, as downsizing can increase some longer-term costs and actually decrease some agencies’ capacity to fulfill their core mission. This suggests that political leaders who are intent on improving government performance must make clear steps to set their efforts up for success, both by getting early buy-in from public employees and by prioritizing long-term goals over short-term fixes.

Keywords:   Good governance, government reform, National Performance Review, downsizing

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