Share this
PREVIOUS ARTICLE ALL CONTENTS Next ARTICLE

Escaping Jurassic Government: How to Recover America’s Lost Commitment to Competence, Donald F. Kettl

Reviewed by Bryan D. Jones

BUY

 

My reaction upon reading the first few pages of this book was disgust. I had to suppress a strong desire to hurl it across the room. Wait, citizens, hear me out! My disgust has nothing to do with Donald Kettl’s excellent book. It has everything to do with the failure of our discipline even to entertain a full and frank discussion of the issue that Kettl raises: the decline in our nation’s commitment to competence in government programs.

Kettl argues persuasively that the old Progressive consensus that whatever government choses to do (the “what”), it ought to do it well (the “how”) has collapsed. Democrats expanded programs without clear professional models of implementation. They supported privatization and what Kettl terms interweaving—indirect, private sector systems for program implementation to broaden government—but this led to increasing complexity and difficulty in establishing accountability. Republicans found they were unsuccessful in reversing the addition of programs, so they turned to undermining the funding and implementing of these programs, undermining them to cause them to fail. The result was declines in performance leading to increasing skepticism about government’s ability to solve problems.

Kettl sketches four possible paths into the future based on the extent to whic

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

The Politics of Child Support in America, Jocelyn Elise Crowley Reviewed by Bryan D. Jones

About PSQ's Editor

ROBERT Y. SHAPIRO

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

CONFERENCES & EVENTS

WEBINAR
Democracy in the Balance? The Polarized Politics of Political-Economic Reform

November 18, 2021

MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT VIEW ALL EVENTS

Editor’s spotlight

The Powell Doctrine

The Rise and Fall of Colin Powell and the Powell Doctrine
Walter LaFeber

MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS