Rightsizing Government: The Literature and the Detroit Experience

Source: Janet Anderson, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 43 no. 3, December 2011
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From the abstract:
Public service providers everywhere are hearing the calls for government transformation, and a new wave of rightsizing initiatives has emerged under related concepts such as reengineering, restructuring and reorganization. With the scholarly literature largely focused on cases where cutback management has been practiced in recent decades, governments have been left to grapple with unsustainable fiscal and operational systems without any overarching logic, or guideposts, for change. Nowhere is this more evident than in the city of Detroit, where a swirl of initiatives in this decade has invoked different and potentially competing concepts of rightsizing: one, centered on comprehensive planning of the scope of local government, looking at its functions and organization; a second, centered on streamlining business processes within existing functions and organizations; and a third centered on consolidating the built environment so that public services can be more efficiently configured. Without adjusting the mix of service responsibilities within and across jurisdictions overlapping an area, it is hard to imagine that sustainable reforms of service delivery systems will be realized. A broad-based definition of the sources of a jurisdiction’s problems must be demonstrated through data-driven analysis, so that all stakeholders can be engaged around a common roadmap for action.

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