NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Reinvent Government

February 7, 2011

Americans do not want only a smaller government; they want a more productive government.  Sometimes an organization needs a new vision.  And today, in this country, that is what we desperately need, says Louis V. Gerstner Jr., former CEO of IBM.

According to Gerstner, in short, we need to reinvent government.  Some principles that will allow us to do so include:

Do not impose "across-the-board" cost reductions.  

  • This is a simple and tempting remedy for an organization in fiscal trouble, but it is almost always unproductive.
  • A truly effective organization needs incremental investments in programs that drive innovation and higher productivity.

Focus on programs, not costs.

  • The greatest productivity gains come from asking questions such as: What things are we doing now that we do not need as much in the future? Can we eliminate them? Reduce their size? Provide them in a totally restructured fashion?
  • A good example would be the U.S. Postal Service.

Allow no exceptions.  

  • To drive a truly effective restructuring program, everything must be on the table.
  • Every unit of the organization may not face a cut, but every unit needs to be rethought.

Source: Louis V. Gerstner Jr., "Don't Just Cut Government, Reinvent It," Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2010.

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