cover image Banishing Bureaucracy: The Five Strategies for Reinventing Government

Banishing Bureaucracy: The Five Strategies for Reinventing Government

David Osborne. Basic Books, $25 (397pp) ISBN 978-0-201-62632-2

Osborne, a consultant to local, state and foreign governments, virtually started a national movement with his 1992 bestseller, Reinventing Government (coauthored with Ted Gaebler). Expanding on that handbook's prescriptions for decentralizing authority, benchmarking performance and competitive public-versus-private bidding on government services, he and Plastrik, a Michigan public-sector consultant, have produced an immensely useful manual for transforming unresponsive government bureaucracies-local, state or national-into entrepreneurial systems open to innovation and change. They amplify their five core strategies-clarifying purpose; creating incentives through markets and competition; improving accountability via customer involvement; redistributing power through the hierarchy; nurturing a new culture-with a wealth of case material ranging from Indianapolis's saving of more than $100 million over seven years to Margaret Thatcher's overhaul of Britain's education, health care, unions and public agencies to kindred programs in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. More ambitiously, the authors set forth a heady vision of community empowerment, whereby citizens organize as residents, neighborhood associations, nonprofits and business groups to run schools, housing developments and planning functions. (Feb.)