At the 1993 conference of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), several of the best-attended panels dealt with Total Quality Management (TQM). At the same time, George Frederickson made a presentation on Total Quality Politics (TQP) that by popular demand was reprinted in the Public Administration Times.
Why would people striving to learn TQM be so receptive to a speaker like Frederickson (1994), who argued that the real problems of American government have little to do with management but instead are primarily caused by the "failure of political will, the power of interest groups, and the weakness in conduct of statecraft by our elected leaders?" (p. 9) If they really believed Frederickson, why were these practitioners wasting time at TQM panels?
The answer would seem to be twofold. First, growing political and budgetary pressures at every level of government are compelling administrative agencies and central staff agencies to change. Second, dynamic public managers continue to perceive their role as one that involves, as Denhardt (1993) has put it, "the pursuit of significance" (p. 275). They want to achieve results that are in the public interest. This requires both the adoption of ambitious substantive goals and the assumption of responsibility for mastering the modern administrative techniques necessary to improve program and regulatory implementation.
This fascination with TQM occurs in a political environment increasingly hostile to "big government." Osborne and Gaebler's (1992) Reinventing Government and Vice President Gore's (1993) Report on Reinventing Government reflect an enthusiasm for change and strongly embrace private sector strategies for achieving it as a response to this environment. Both works are classified here within the Reinventing Government (ReGo) approach: Gaebler played an important role in preparing both volumes, and, as James Q. Wilson (1994a) has observed, the "teachings [of Reinventing Government] have become the animating spirit . . . of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review, a document popularly known as the plan for reinventing government" (p. 41).
The comparatively more straightforward and visceral attack on big government through downsizing will also be discussed. The downsizing approach has an extensive Populist lineage in American history; it began its current round of success at the state and local levels with the taxpayer rebellion of the 1970s and 1980s and the Gramm-Rudman bill, with its single-minded emphasis on deficit reduction. Downsizing as a movement, Kettl (1995) concludes, "has been largely atheoretical. One principle has guided it: The only way to force greater efficiency is to put a cocked gun, in the form of tax and spending limits, to the heads of public managers" (p. 39).
The Contract with America (CWA) appears to be the most recent manifestation of this downsizing emphasis. Unbridled by good government prescriptions, CWA is less complex than ReGo and has enjoyed more success among voters. It is, however, more dangerous in its predilection to throw out the bureaucratic baby with the bathwater.
Taking account of the CWA is particularly necessary, because its agenda to a remarkable degree has become the agenda of the 104th Congress. Although the CWA's first 10 formal principles did not in most cases seem to represent critical issues facing the nation, its leaders took a giant strategic step forward when they linked the failed passage of the balanced budget amendment with an unqualified commitment to make the specific proposals necessary to balance the budget by 2002. Opening themselves to attack on specific proposed cuts, the leaders thereby placed the spotlight squarely on deficit reduction and forced their opponents to grapple with their fundamental attack on what government should be allowed to do. It remains to be seen what specific inroads this attack may make, but it has already succeeded in making Congress the battlefield and in defining the high-profile issues for the remainder of the first session and perhaps for the 1996 election campaign as well.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE MODEL VERSUS THE REINVENTING GOVERNMENT APPROACH
It would hardly seem worth mentioning that the field of public administration can benefit both from a healthy dose of TQM and from Frederickson's TQP. Such apparent common sense, however, appears at odds with what I would term the "one-and-one-half models" that have come into conflict as a result of the ReGo controversy.
The whole administrative model is the traditional stuff of public administration, which has dominated the field and previous commission reports on federal administrative reform. The full texts or summaries of such reports as the Brownlow Commission, the two Hoover Commissions, and the Ash Commission emphasize government's critical role of democratic accountability by department and agency heads to the president (or, as counterpart state and local commissions have advocated, to the governor or city council, respectively). Their fundamental premise, as Moe (1994) has stressed, is that
The government of the United States is a government of laws passed by the representatives of the people assembled in Congress. It is the constitutional responsibility of the President and his duly appointed and approved subordinates to see that these laws, wise and unwise, are implemented. . . . [There is thus no way of avoiding] the need for an integrated executive branch with a hierarchical system of accountability. (p. 112)
The basis for the distinctive character of democratic governance is, therefore, found in legal, not economic, theory. It is ironic, then, that reformers like Osborne and Gaebler can think of nothing more appropriate than an economic model for government.
One can easily caricature Reinventing Government as a governance model. Here is a work that enthusiastically propounds a series of dramatic changes but does not include in its index such terms as the Constitution, legitimacy, and the public interest. Furthermore, it promotes the virtues of its 10 solutions with only an occasional aside hinting that democratic trade-offs and institutional risks can result from adopting its one-size-fits-all principles. In addition, the book seems to describe a bygone world populated by courageous, entrepreneurial Davids tilting valiantly with curmudgeonly, bureaucratic Goliaths who have reached the pinnacles of their organizations by creating an art form of defense of the status quo.
Perhaps the most fundamental problem with the ReGo argument is that it does not, in and of itself, constitute a model of governance. Indeed, the crisis today, according to Osborne and Gaebler (1992), is that irate customers are unwilling to shell out more money for the same old "government - for doing things, delivering services," even while there is more demand for "governance - for leading society, convincing its various interest groups (through ad hoc coalition building) to embrace common goals and strategies" (p. 34). Leadership then becomes little more than an exercise in steering and leveraging. In and of itself, Carroll (1995) has thus argued that National Performance Review (NPR) substitutes the value of "consumer satisfaction" for the values of "a more perfect union, the common defense, domestic tranquility, justice, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty as articulated in the Preamble to our constitutional framework" (p. 309).
The reinventing strategy is perhaps better viewed as only half a model, or more accurately as yet another management methodology to which the existing bureaucratic model can and should adapt. The authors assume, in asserting their 10 principles, that a traditional administrative model is in place. Indeed, Osborne and Gaebler's (1992) principles only make sense when grafted onto that existing governmental structure. For example, bureaucrats and professionals will be needed to assist in "managing the transition from service to empowerment" (p. 70) and removing the barriers to "community-owned government" (p. 71). More significant, Osborne and Gaebler repeatedly emphasize that the administrative agencies will also be needed to steer the boat effectively and efficiently. Otherwise, the rowers recruited from the private and voluntary sectors will lose sight of their tasks and drift away from their customers.
Garvey (1995) thus argues the need for administrative action in a democratic system to meet two objectives simultaneously - to construct sufficient "state capacity" (or administrative competence and energy) and to control that capacity to ensure the responsiveness of the public bureaucracy to higher authority. Drawing on the work of Kaufman, Garvey traces that tension back to the Jacksonian concern with popular representation, which eventually required more democratic accountability, and to the Progressive emphasis on neutral competence, which eventually had to be balanced with greater citizen responsiveness (pp. 87-90).
Few advocates, either of the administrative model or of the ReGo approach, ever quite acknowledge that the one-and-one-half models have already coexisted, if uncomfortably, for decades. Nor do Osborne and Gaebler (1992) take into account that recurring realities of bureaucratic life have always distorted such performance management. For example, agencies must choose among partially contradictory organizational principles whose applicability depends on changing environmental conditions. Gulick (1937, pp. 1-46) thus noted that bureaucracies can organize by purpose, process (professional specialty), clientele, or place (geographical area). Depending on the environment, each system has its advantages, but something is lost in not organizing by each of the other three means of coordination and control.
The public choice model, as interpreted by Osborne and Gaebler (1992), is thus not an organizational alternative for all seasons. Indeed, one of its shortcomings is the curiously ahistorical nature of the analysis. For example, what happens when taxpayers rebel against supporting particular employment and training or other programs that still enjoy popular support within the target area? The experience of the Office of Economic Opportunity's Community Action Programs in the 1960s suggests that this is more than an academic question. Do the steerers within the Washington bureaucracy then intervene, as Osborne and Gaebler advocate, because outcome measures are down? Neither in the NPR nor in Reinventing Government is there a hint that there are conditions under which these principles (such as empowerment and reward strictly on the basis of performance) can and do conflict.
Whatever the limitations of the ReGo half-model of administration, no one is advocating a return to a rigid interpretation of the managerial and organizational principles of the 1930s. Even Moe (1990), a staunch defender of the administrative model, has observed that the challenge for public institutions in coming years is to "rebuild the intellectual capital of the field" in a way that maintains the "fundamental public law character while encouraging adaptation to a rapidly changing political environment" (p. 137). The trick is to avoid losing democratic accountability and the capacity to deal with large-scale problems even while melding more flexibility, decentralization, citizen involvement, and other ReGo emphases more fully into the administrative model.
LEADERSHIP, THE POLITICS AND ADMINISTRATION DICHOTOMY, AND SETTING AN AGENDA FOR GOVERNANCE
The thrust of the Gore Commission report and its half-model, however, poses three other problems for the profession in strengthening the administrative model. The CWA is deficient in dealing with two of these problems as well.
1. The ReGo approach has produced a limited definition of the role of leadership in public administration - or what Osborne and Gaebler (1992) call entrepreneurship. As defined by the ReGo movement, this potentially important term does not capture the political and ethical dimensions of the task now confronting public managers.
2. A curious separation between politics and administration exists both in Osborne and Gaebler (1992) and in the ReGo Commission's recommendations. Rarely in the NPR is there a hint that difficulties at the policy formulation stage require attention if we are to come to grips with policy implementation shortcomings. Administrators who adopt some of the more controversial NPR recommendations are going to find themselves pushed into political thickets of policy formulation faster and further than they were as a result of previous good government reports.
3. Finally, the ReGo agenda is too limited to capture the daunting series of social responsibilities that, in my view, face us as public administrators today. Yet, to a disturbing extent, ReGo has come to occupy the agenda of the federal government reform. This may be seen both in the Clinton administration's reliance on the vice president and his …