August 8, 2012
The Public Administration Section of the American Political Science Association has awarded their 2012 Herbert Simon Book Award to Donald P. Moynihan’s The Dynamics of Performance Management: Constructing Information and Reform. Drawing on research from state and federal levels, The Dynamics of Performance Management illustrates how governments have emphasized some aspects of performance management—such as building measurement systems to acquire more performance data—but have neglected wider organizational change that would facilitate the use of such information.
In Moynihan’s analysis of why and how governments in the United States have made the move to performance systems, he identifies agency leadership, culture, and resources as keys to better implementation, goal-based learning, and improved outcomes.
How do governments use the performance information generated under performance systems? Moynihan develops a model of interactive dialogue to highlight how performance data, which promised to optimize decision making and policy change for the public’s benefit, has often been used selectively to serve the interests of particular agencies and individuals, undermining attempts at interagency problem solving and reform.
A valuable resource for public administration scholars and administrators, The Dynamics of Performance Management offers fresh insight into how government organizations can better achieve their public service goals.
August 6, 2012
Kathleen Hale’s How Information Matters: Networks and Public Policy Information has won the Academy of Management’s Public and Nonprofit Division’s 2012 Best Book Award. This award-winning book examines the ways a network of state and local governments and nonprofit organizations can enhance the capacity for successful policy change by public administrators. Hale examines drug courts, programs that typify the highly networked, collaborative environment of public administrators today. These “special dockets” implement justice but also drug treatment, case management, drug testing, and incentive programs for non-violent offenders in lieu of jail time. In a study that spans more than two decades, Hale shows ways organizations within the network act to champion, challenge, and support policy innovations over time. Her description of interactions between courts, administrative agencies, and national organizations highlight the evolution of collaborative governance in the state and local arena, with vignettes that share specific experiences across six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee) and ways that they acquired knowledge from the network to make decisions.
Congratulations to Dr. Hale!
March 12, 2012
Proposals for reform have dotted the federal management landscape in the United States for more than 50 years. Yet the results of these efforts have frequently failed to produce lasting results. The public management field’s prescriptions for reform have become too formulaic and have largely ignored lessons from the mediocre results that have been seen from many previous efforts. In her new book, Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions, renowned public administration scholar Beryl A. Radin reveals what may lie behind the failure of so many of these efforts at government management reform.
The book examines three basic sets of contradictions between the strategies of the reformers and the reality of the US federal system: contradictions in the shared powers structure, contradictions in values, and contradictions between politics and administration. Too often the prescriptions for reform have tried to directly apply techniques from the private sector or a parliamentary system that do not transfer well to the structure of the US federal system, to this country’s democratic traditions, or our complex political system. Radin then uses these contradictions to explore six types of reform efforts—contracting out, personnel policy, agency reorganization, budgeting, federalism policies and procedures, and performance management.
Carsten Greve, of Copenhagen Business School, calls Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions “essential reading for all who want to understand why public management reform does not always work as intended, but nevertheless continues to attract politicians’ and citizens’ attention. . . . A thoughtful and well-researched reminder of why politics and reform are bound together. This book places the public management reform agenda in its proper historical perspective.”
Mindful of the ineffectiveness of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, Radin does not propose a single path for reform, but calls instead for a truly honest assessment of past efforts as today’s reformers design a new conceptual and strategic roadmap for the future. Norma M. Riccucci, of Rutgers University, Newark, applauds the book, saying that it “challenges the way in which academics as well as practitioners have tackled the problems associated with public management reform. . . . [E]xtraordinarily insightful.”
March 7, 2012
At the American Society of Public Administration’s Annual Meeting this past weekend, Georgetown University Press book Public Administration: Traditions of Inquiry and Philosophies of Knowledge won the Best Book of 2012 Award from the Section on Public Administration Research. This book by Norma Riccucci examines the intellectual origins and identity of the discipline of public administration, its diverse research traditions, and how public administration research is conducted today.
Craig Thomas, of the University of Washington, has applauded the book calling it “a sweeping and inclusive examination of the epistemic foundations of public administration theory and methods.” He goes on saying, “Riccucci convincingly demonstrates that the field is better served when research questions drive methodological choices, rather than methodological commitments driving the questions we ask. Hence, this book should be a standard text for graduate seminars on the logic of inquiry and research design in public administration.”
We at the press are very proud of Dr. Riccucci’s achievement and pleased that ASPA recognized her truly excellent work!
February 27, 2012
William F. May’s new book, Testing the National Covenant, published by Georgetown University Press, draws on America’s religious and political history and examines two concepts at play in the founding of the country—contractual and covenantal. He contends that the biblical idea of a covenant offers a more promising way than the language of contract, grounded in self-interest alone, to contain our runaway anxieties and appetites. A covenantal sensibility affirms, “We the people (not simply, We the individuals, or We the interest groups) of the United States.” It presupposes a history of mutual giving and receiving and of bearing with one another that undergirds all the traffic in buying and selling, arguing and negotiating, that obtain in the rough terrain of politics. May closes with an account of the covenantal agenda ahead, and concludes with the vexing issue of immigrants and undocumented workers that has singularly tested the covenant of this immigrant nation.
January 12, 2012
While we might not often think about the financial health of our local government, should we suddenly not have clean water, or our trash stopped getting picked up, or police or firefighters didn’t respond when we called, we would likely be incredibly upset. With the Great Recession, local governments and their stakeholders are even more aggressively working to better understand what affects them financially and how they can operate with less revenue. Despite the critical involvement of local governments in our daily lives and strains on local budgets across the country, there are very few studies of how suburban municipalities manage their fiscal policies—even with half of the US population living in the suburbs.
Managing the Fiscal Metropolis, the first comprehensive analysis of the financial condition, management, and policy making of local governments in a metropolitan region, fills this gap. This groundbreaking study by Rebecca M. Hendrick, covers 264 Chicago suburban municipalities from the late 1990s to the present. In it she identifies and describes the primary factors and events that affect municipal financial decisions and financial conditions and explores the strategies these governments use to manage financial conditions and solve financial problems. Her study finds new evidence about the role of contextual factors—including other local governments—in the financial condition of municipalities and how municipal financial decisions and practices alter these effects. The wide economic and social diversity of the municipalities studied make its findings relevant on a national scale.
W. Bartley Hildreth applauds Managing the Fiscal Metropolis, saying, “Professor Hendrick provides a path-breaking examination of the financial health and fiscal decision-making strategies of suburban governments competing in a thriving metropolis. From front-page stories of government finance to many cursory academic studies, the common practice is to draw conclusions from a grab bag of indicators with weak theoretical connections. Tomorrow’s students and serious researchers should build their work on the comprehensive framework offered here if the goal is to truly diagnose and understand the fiscal heartbeat of local government finance.”
About the Author: Rebecca M. Hendrick is an associate professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
January 5, 2012
At the end of 2011, GU Press author Philip Joyce was interviewed by CSPAN’s BookTV to discuss his book The Congressional Budget Office: Honest Numbers, Power, and Policymaking. Joyce’s work is the first book-length history of the CBO. The book discusses this influential agency’s role in larger budget policy and the more narrow “scoring” of individual legislation, such as its role in the 2009-2010 Obama health care reform. It also describes how the first director, Alice Rivlin, and seven successors managed to create and sustain a nonpartisan, highly credible agency in the middle of one of the most partisan institutions imaginable. Watch the full video here!