Thursday, October 08, 2009

the failing u.s. government - the crisis of public management

Scientific American | The crisis of American governance goes much deeper than political divisions and ideology. The U.S. is in a crisis of policy implementation. Not only are Americans deeply divided on what to do about health care, budget deficits, financial markets, climate change and more, but government is also failing to execute settled policies effectively. Management systems linking government, business and civil society need urgent repair.

The recent systems failures are legion and notorious. The 9/11 attacks might well have been prevented if the FBI and the intelligence agencies had cooperated more effectively in early 2001 when they were receiving various signals of a possible terrorist attack. Hurricane Katrina caused mass devastation and loss of life because recommendations to bolster the levees shielding New Orleans and other protective measures were neglected for decades despite urgent expert warnings, and because the federal emergency relief effort failed completely after the storm. To this day, reconstruction efforts in New Orleans are paralyzed and many poor communities there have been abandoned. The U.S. occupation of Iraq was marked by massive and shocking corruption, incompetence, and implementation failures by U.S. agencies.