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In every country today, we confront a host of stubborn problems: Violent crime, drug abuse, budgetary constraints, crumbling roads, traffic congestion, pollution. Every community is facing serious problems. The problems differ from place to place. But, the most serious problem of all, however is different, it is the inadequacy of the institutional mechanisms we rely on for making public decisions. Government, our biggest institutional mechanism, has failed to generate effective public responses to the problems troubling us.
Anyone who tries to re-think government is embarking on a truly daunting process, because government is such a complex, multi-faceted institution with so many relationships and responsibilities; from defense to commerce, civic order and public health, to name just a few. As citizens, we all know that our worst nightmare about relationship with government is to be lost in a bureaucratic maze; shuffled from place to place, waiting hours in long queues, unable to find or learn anything. Books have been written and movies made about these nightmares.
How do we solve these problems? It is not easy. Without studying success, it is hard to devise real solutions. For years, the government has studied failure, and for years, failure has endured. So the approach has to be different. We have to look for success. We have to search organizations that produce results, satisfy customers, and increased productivity. We have to study the organizations that constantly learn, innovate and improve. It is not difficult to find effective, entrepreneurial public organizations. The book is full of examples of such organizations.
In last decades several governments have been reinventing themselves, from Australia to Great Britain, Singapore to Sweden, the Netherlands to New Zealand. Everywhere the need of information age societies are colliding with the limits of industrial era government. Britain has called it "New public management" USA has named it "Reinvention initiative." Whatever be the name, the movement to reinvent government is driven by absolute necessity. Governments, all over the world, have reached the same conclusion: Government is broken, and it is time to fix it. The time has come to set the house in order. The administrative management of the government needs overhauling.
The book is about studying success in this reinvention movement and exploring common characteristics of success. This book lays out the strategies that have proven the most effective and describes how the world's most successful re-inventors have used them.
Our governments are in trouble. They have lost their sense of mission; they have lost their ethic of public service; and, most importantly, they have lost the faith of the people. We can no larger afford to pay more for and get less from our government. The answer for every problem cannot always be another program or more money. It is time to radically change the way the government operates -- to shift from top-down bureaucracy to entrepreneurial government that empowers citizens and communities to change our country from the bottom up. The vision the book seeks is that of a government that works for people, cleared of useless bureaucracy and waste and freed from red tape and senseless rules.