Ten Secret Truths About Government Incompetence

Source: Donald F. Kettl, Washington Monthly, Vol. 47 nos. 1 & 2, January/February 2015

What you can learn from the management mistakes of Obama and Bush.

I. Government works better than people think. Most of the time. …..
II. Good management doesn’t win elections—but bad management can ruin presidencies. Fast. …..
III. We don’t distinguish between failures that are truly consequential and those that have lesser impact. …..
IV. We say we want to run government more like the private sector— but we expect government to meet standards that the private sector could never manage. …..
V. Much of government’s work isn’t done by government. …..
VI. The problem isn’t too many bureaucrats—it’s too few. …..
VII. Half the time, when it looks like it’s the president’s fault, the problems really come from Congress. …..
VIII. Critics of your government will create self-fulfilling prophecies by underfunding and otherwise sabotaging programs they don’t like. …..
IX. Government can be made much better relatively quickly—and can be made worse even more quickly. …..
X. Presidents can win the game if they pay attention. …..