WASHINGTON'S HIDDEN TRAGEDY: The Failure to Make Government Work by Frederic V. Malek

WASHINGTON'S HIDDEN TRAGEDY: The Failure to Make Government Work

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A businessman who served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Nixon Administration, Frederic Malek has written an apolitical dissection of the inefficiencies of an overgrown Federal government. Like all executives-turned-public-servants, Malek laments the failure of the largest organization in the world to follow the principles of management science. The reason, as Malek and others recognize, is that there is nothing scientific about government: powerful congressmen are not concerned with the bottom line, but with their personal fiefdoms; presidents appoint cabinet officers on the basis of political impact and media appeal; bureaucrats, without the lash of profits, go on their careerminded way. Nothing new here: but, because he was Nixon's management watchdog, Malek's experience-hardened solutions are worth some consideration. Ruling out sweeping governmental reorganization, Malek advocates modest incremental reforms, viz.: the gradual introduction of zero-based budgeting, so that agencies will have to justify their budgets each year; a standing committee on recruitment to high government posts to replace the less efficient but traditional BUGAT (bunch of guys around a table) approach; and the establishment of ""management by objective"" so that bureaucrats will worry less about spending money and more about achieving the intended results. Malek is realistic. He concedes that government will never be as efficient as a corporation, simply because government need not make a profit to survive. But he argues well for his modest solutions, and this no-nonsense, bottom-line book will appeal to every political persuasion which espouses thrift.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1978
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan