As the pay and benefits of federal workers come increasingly under scrutiny by a debt-weary Congress, a prominent academic expert on public service is describing a crisis in how the federal government is managed.
New York University Professor Paul C. Light calls for big changes to salaries and hiring, and a restructuring of management practices in a report released last week. “Creating High Performance Government: A Once-in-a Generation Opportunity” outlines a plan to save the government a trillion dollars over the next decade by focusing on performance and accountability. Light also writes a column on the management of government for The Washington Post.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee’s Task Force on Government Performance, highlighted the report at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden sounded similar concerns this month in launching a new campaign to make government more transparent.
Among the problems Light highlights:
• Leadership in many agencies is “inconsistent at best, negligent at worst” and bloated. He recommends eliminating about half of the roughly 3,000 political appointees in the executive branch.
• Automatic raises for any employee don’t allow performance to be rewarded, and should not continue.
• Government delivers too many services inefficiently, with duplication in programs, an overreliance on contractors and hundreds of billions in uncollected taxes.
Light recommends that a “Government Reform Corporation” be created that could submit legislative proposals to Congress to change some of the problems he highlights with an up or down vote.