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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

Book Description

The American people are frustrated with their government-dismayed by a series of high-profile failures (Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown) that seems to just keep getting longer. Yet our nation has a proud history of great achievements: victory in World War II, our national highway system, welfare reform, the moon landing.

We need more successes like these to reclaim government's legacy of competence. In If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, William Eggers and John O'Leary explain how to do it. The key? Understand-and avoid-the common pitfalls that trip up public-sector leaders during the journey from idea to results.

The authors identify pitfalls including:

-The Partial Map Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout project execution

-The Tolstoy Syndrome: Seeing only the possibilities you want to see

-Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation

-The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines

-The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change

At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official, this book will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of democracy.

Table of Contents

  1. Praise for If We Can Put a Man on the Moon ...
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Preface - The Conflict Behind the Cliché
  6. Introduction - The Seven Deadly Traps on the Journey to Success
  7. CHAPTER 1 - The Tolstoy Trap
    1. Dick Nixon: Tire Rationer, Inflation Fighter
    2. The Tolstoy Syndrome
    3. Health Care Reform in Massachusetts: The Meeting of the Minds
    4. Pearls of Wisdom from the Cyber Mob
    5. The Opposite of an Idea
    6. Politics, Economics, and the Copenhagen Consensus
  8. CHAPTER 2 - The Design-Free Design Trap
    1. Design-Free Design
    2. California’s Electricity Belly Flop
    3. Flawed Design = Implementation Nightmare
    4. Taking the Design Phase Seriously
    5. Ready, Fire, Aim
    6. Design for Execution
  9. CHAPTER 3 - The Stargate Trap
    1. Boston’s Busing Nightmare: Seventy-seven Days to Disaster
    2. Reducing Acid Rain: Breaking the Impasse
    3. Japan’s Number One Elvis Fan Goes Postal
    4. The Distortion Effects of the Stargate Trap
  10. CHAPTER 4 - The Overconfidence Trap
    1. The Overconfidence Trap
    2. The Real Tragedy of the Commons
    3. A Trip Up Mount Washington
    4. Iraq Reconstruction: Plan B
  11. CHAPTER 5 - The Sisyphus Trap
    1. The Sisyphus Trap: Rolling the Rock Up a Hill
    2. Incentives Without Carrots or Sticks
    3. Culture Matters
    4. Politics and Bureaucracy: Bridging the Divide
    5. James Webb and Putting a Man on the Moon
    6. An Ever Steeper Hill: The Pretzel Organization
    7. The Double Sisyphus Trap
    8. Systems, People, and Results
  12. CHAPTER 6 - The Complacency Trap
    1. The Complacency Trap
    2. Sunset in the Lone Star State
    3. Fixing the White House
    4. Herbert Hoover’s Comeback: The Hoover Commission
    5. Schwarzenegger’s Reforms Get Terminated
    6. NASA: Two Tragedies, One Underlying Cause
    7. The Risk of Complacency
  13. CHAPTER 7 - The Silo Trap
    1. Four Decades of Groundhog Day
    2. The Silo Trap
    3. The Failed Silos of Excellence
    4. Katrina and the Weakest Link in the Chain
    5. Chickens in Manhattan: Fostering Alignment
    6. Setting Goals, Measuring Progress
    7. The Common Link Between Bad Movies and Bad Policy
  14. CHAPTER 8 - Creating a Better Future
    1. Mr. Moynihan Goes to Washington
    2. The Remarkable Dwight Ink
    3. Taking Government Work Seriously
    4. Your Turn
  15. Appendix A - Case Studies Analyzed
  16. Appendix B - National Academy of Public Administration Survey Results
  17. Appendix C - Senior Executive Service Survey Results
  18. Appendix D - Policy Execution Survey Results, Canada
  19. Notes
  20. Index
  21. Acknowledgments
  22. About the Authors