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Public Administration | James P. Pfiffner
The Kind of Team a New President Needs
The foundation for good management in the federal government is effective leadership at both the political and career levels of an administration. Presidents do not run the government alone. They must work with the thousands of political appointees they name, who must in turn work with the career executives who implement the president's policy agenda and execute the laws. Three challenges face the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.
>> Government Executive
PLUS: Richard Clay Wilson Jr. on the collision of government's professionals and political ideology.
>> Governing | Posted Dec. 23, 2016

Higher Education | Sheldon Whitehouse
The Threat of Fake Science
America's universities are home, more than any other place in our country, to the enterprise of science. So when a threat looms over the enterprise of science, the universities that are its home need to help address it. The threat is simple: The fossil-fuel industry has adopted and powered up infrastructure and methods that were originally built by the tobacco industry and others to attack and deny science. That effort has coalesced into a large, adaptive and well-camouflaged apparatus that aspires to mimic and rival legitimate science.
>> Inside Higher Ed
PLUS: Pete Mackey on higher ed's post-election voice.
>> Inside Higher Ed | Posted Dec. 22, 2016

Efficiency | Robert Knisely
The Need to Recognize What Government Does Right
Lots of federal processes are inefficient and wasteful, but many others have become more efficient and effective over time. When I helped run Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review, we focused on bringing in the best ideas from the private sector. We never sought out for recognition the best approaches to the standard, everyday processes of government as they have evolved over decades. We need to start doing that. It won't be easy, and it won't be free, but competition will help sort the good from the mediocre from the truly awful.
>> The Hill | Posted Dec. 21, 2016

Elections | Neal Peirce
How the States Could Make Presidential Voting Great
There have been four previous occasions when the Electoral College "elected" a presidential candidate who had lost the popular vote--1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. Why do we have this error-prone system at all? And what can we do about it? There is hope. Under the National Popular Vote plan, states would agree to award all of their respective electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide. So far the proposal has been adopted by 10 states and the District of Columbia. To succeed, it will have to pick up a large group of medium- and smaller-sized states. That may be a tough challenge, but should it be adopted by enough states, we'd see a stunning reversal of the Electoral College missteps of the last two centuries.
>> Governing
PLUS: George F. Will on why the Electoral College is an excellent system for choosing a president.
>> Washington Post | Posted Dec. 20, 2016

Elections | Neal Peirce
How the States Could Make Presidential Voting Great
There have been four previous occasions when the Electoral College "elected" a presidential candidate who had lost the popular vote--1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. Why do we have this error-prone system at all? And what can we do about it? There is hope. Under the National Popular Vote plan, states would agree to award all of their respective electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide. So far the proposal has been adopted by 10 states and the District of Columbia. To succeed, it will have to pick up a large group of medium- and smaller-sized states. That may be a tough challenge, but should it be adopted by enough states, we'd see a stunning reversal of the Electoral College missteps of the last two centuries.
>> Governing
PLUS: George F. Will on why the Electoral College is an excellent system for choosing a president.
>> Washington Post | Posted Dec. 19, 2016

Efficiency | Philip K. Howard
How to Pull the Plug on the Red-Tape Machine
Every president since Jimmy Carter has vowed to cut unnecessary regulations, but the red-tape machine has defied all attempts at control. Red-tape reformers have failed because they assume the problem is a matter of degree--that there are just too many rules. What reformers have missed is that regulatory failure is not merely a matter of too much regulation but is caused by a flawed philosophy on how to regulate. The only solution is to retool regulation to focus on results, not inputs.
>> Washington Post | Posted Dec. 16, 2016

Public Administration | Philip Joyce
The Myth that Government Should Be Run Like a Business
There were many reasons behind the election of Donald Trump as president, but certainly one argument, heard time and again, contributed to his appeal: that the federal government was such a mess that the solution was to run it "like a business" and that the way to accomplish that was to elect a successful corporate executive. Trump is not the first politician, by any means, to benefit from this claim. In a classic 1887 article, Woodrow Wilson, then a professor at Princeton University, maintained that "the field of administration is a field of business." Later observers and scholars of public administration thoroughly discredited this notion. There are several fundamental ways in which administering a government is different from running a business.
>> Governing | Posted Dec. 15, 2016

Elections | Carsten Schürmann and Jari Kickbusch
Why Recounts Should Be the Norm
Jill Stein, her supporters and a group of experts struggled mightily to get proper recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They were accused of paranoia and wasting time. Why is it so difficult, and so controversial, to get the results of a presidential election inspected and verified? Audits should be mandatory in all states; in fact, they're part of the foundation of a healthy democracy. A recount is comparable to checking the receipt before leaving the local grocery store. Some check, some don't, but overall we all agree that the ability to check a receipt is worth the paper it is printed on.
>> Los Angeles Times | Posted Dec. 14, 2016

The Presidency | Gordon Adams
American Policy and
'Velvet Militarization'

Having roundly criticized generals during the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump is now surrounding himself with them. As much as Americans like and respect their generals, civilian control of the military has nothing to do with the personal merits or otherwise of particular flag officers. The larger principle goes back to the founding of the republic: The founders worried about the influence that a military with excessive power could have on America's young democracy. The issue is the same today. It's not the risk of a military coup; the risk is in the "velvet militarization" of American foreign and national-security policy over the next four years.
>> New York Times | Posted Dec. 13, 2016

Higher Education | Pamela Tate
Our Neglect of Adult Learners
More than 95 percent of the jobs created during the recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high-school diploma or less are being left behind. Proposed initiatives to improve our country's infrastructure could be an opening for many of these workers. Yet owing to our nation's skills gap, the pool from which to draw those workers is shallow. That's why adult learners are key. Today, there are more than 36 million adults in this country with some college education but no degree, compared to only about three million new high-school graduates. Yet higher education and its governing state policies remain focused on this younger, smaller group while neglecting to place the necessary emphasis on adults.
>> Governing
PLUS: Joe Garcia and William Serrata on higher education, workforce needs and demographic change.
>> Chronicle of Higher Education | Posted Dec. 12, 2016

Public Administration | Stephen G. Harding
What's a Bureaucrat to Do?
It's no surprise that the governed seem none too happy with their government. Populism notwithstanding, it can be argued that one of the national dissatisfaction points is the country's discord with governmental bureaucracy itself, the perception of an untouchable, uncaring, unresponsive, power-centered system of government. Bureaucracy needs to take responsibility for reducing the level of societal consternation. This starts by balancing the needs of the community with the needs of the organization. Well intentioned and technically competent bureaucrats need to publicly demonstrate dedication to public service, not just to their corporate structures or the mandates of their professional associations.
>> PA Times
PLUS: David Paschane on how Donald Trump can make government work again.
>> Government Executive | Posted Dec. 9, 2016

Health Care | Alice M. Rivlin
How Trumpcare Could Be Great
In the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with "something great." As president, he have the opportunity to deliver on that promise--with a little help from House Speaker Paul Ryan, his fellow Republicans, and Democrats (yes, Democrats) in both houses of Congress. If Trump wants to show his skills and build an enduring legacy, he should start by brokering a deal that preserves the best aspects of Obamacare, fixes its design flaws and turns it into a sustainable program with his name on it. Putting this together will test the new president's skills in the "art of the deal" as real estate never could.
>> The Hill | Posted Dec. 8, 2016

The Environment | Adam Frank
NASA's Unique Role in Climate Research
On April 1, 1960, the newly established National Aeronautics and Space Administration heaved a 270-pound box of electronics into Earth orbit. Tiros-1 was the first world's first weather satellite. This small piece of history says a lot about the call by a space-policy adviser to President-elect Donald Trump to de-fund NASA's earth science efforts, moving those functions to other agencies and letting it focus on deep-space research. NASA's critics have long wanted to shut the agency out of research related to climate change. The problem is, not only is earth science a long-running part of NASA's "prime mission," but the space agency is uniquely positioned to do it. Without NASA, climate research worldwide would be hobbled.
>> New York Times
PLUS: Glenn Harlan Reynolds on nurturing the success of capitalism in space.
>> USA Today | Posted Dec. 7, 2016

Elections | Richard Lempert
Two Cheers for the Electoral College
If democracy means the majority rules, the Electoral College is an undemocratic institution. Twice in the last five elections it has delivered the White House to the loser of the popular vote. Yet the undemocratic aspects of the Electoral College do not by themselves make the case for its elimination. Built into our system of checks and balances are several undemocratic institutions, most notably our entire judiciary. The nation seems to have survived these limitations on majoritarian democracy reasonably well, enduring, perhaps in part, because of them. So even for committed small-d democrats, the question must be: Does the Electoral College system have any virtues that offset its occasional frustration of majority? At least two such virtues exist.
>> Brookings Institution | Posted Dec. 6, 2016

The Military | Thomas E. Ricks
The Revered General Who Should Lead the Pentagon
Retired Gen. James N. Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of defense, is revered in the Marine Corps for his aggressive and decisive approach to fighting. But Mattis is not another George Patton, a comparison Trump is fond of making. Mattis is far more disciplined than Patton was, and a far more strategic thinker. Usually, I'd oppose having a general in charge of the Pentagon because it could undermine our tradition of civilian control of the military. But the incoming president appears to be a profoundly ignorant man who often acts on gut impulse or on what pleases the crowd. That is a dangerous combination in the White House. I am confident that Mattis would be a restraint on Trump's impulsiveness.
>> New York Times
PLUS: Phillip Carter and Loren DeJonge Schulman on the danger of Trump's choice of so many generals.
>> Washington Post | Posted Dec. 5, 2016

Public Administration | Tom Fox
How Federal Execs Can Navigate the Transition
President-elect Donald Trump's transition landing teams have begun to descend on federal agencies across the government. For federal employees, this can be an unsettling time with many unknowns that include probable policy changes and new personalities calling the shots. But it also can be an opportunity for career executives to lay the groundwork for productive working relationships with the new team. There is no magic formula. It is about career executives providing transition team members with useful information, offering them the best possible insights and meeting their requests whenever possible.
>> Washington Post
PLUS: Dan Chenok on the challenges that await the new presidential administration's political appointees.
>> Government Executive | Posted Dec. 2, 2016

Innovation | Bruce Katz
The Metropolitan Revolution
For the past eight years, gridlock in Washington, D.C., has left city and metro leaders with an inconsistent partner in the federal government, spurring a "metropolitan revolution" of bottom-up innovation across the country. With Donald Trump and the Republicans' electoral victory, a wide range of policies relating to taxes, trade, the environment, immigration, infrastructure and health care seem likely to be upended. But some things will stay the same: Metropolitan areas will continue to drive our economy forward, and they will remain the geographies most capable of bridging partisan divisions. Local leadership will now be more important than ever.
>> Brookings Institution | Posted Dec. 1, 2016

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