Professor Turner       Gov 316

Reinventing Government Research Paper Assignment

By now, you are intimately familiar with the structure and operation of your agency.  Your task is to develop a plan for improving the operations of the agency based upon the ideas of Osbourne and Gaebler’s Reinventing Government.

The Assignment
Your paper should take the form of a policy memorandum to the head of your agency.  Assume that they are relatively ignorant about the ideas and concepts behind reinventing government (probably not an unfair assumption).  Your memo should explain the eight concepts of reinventing government from Osbourne and Gaebler outlined below, why they are important, and how these ideas could be specifically applied to your agency.  For example, your memo should explain what Osbourne and Gaebler mean by steering rather than rowing; how this concept could be implemented in actual details in the agency; and what advantages you would expect to see.  You should also use Osbourne and Gaebler’s ideas to critique the agency’s operations (i.e. By treating its customers as clients, the program .. ..) and point out the shortcomings of its existing approaches.   For the record, the eight key reinventing concepts are:

1. Catalytic government: Steering rather than rowing
2. Community owned government: empowering rather than serving
3. Competitive Government: Injecting competition into service delivery
4. Mission driven government:  transforming rule driven organizations
5. Results oriented government:  funding outcomes not inputs
6. Customer driven government:  meeting the needs of the customer
7. Decentralized government:  from hierarchy to participation and teamwork
8. Market oriented government:  leveraging change through the market

Your paper should also address what are the likely political and organizational barriers to these efforts.  We will cover these issues in the readings for class on Tuesday.

These questions can all be answered using your knowledge of the agency and the in class readings.  Although you do not need to do additional interviews or research, you might find it useful to talk to your agency contacts about the feasibility of your reinvention ideas, recent reform efforts, or political barriers to reforms.  It also is worthwhile to go to the National Performance Review web site ( to see what efforts, if any, have been made to reinvent your program at the federal level as well as check out the links to other reinvention sites.  Another idea is to search the academic literature for recent articles on reinventing or reform efforts in your program area in other states.  Such articles would provide persuasive evidence about the potential for reform.  Finally, it would also be worth considering the following articles from Lane Reader:  James Q. Wilson, A few modest suggestions, The FEMA Phoenix case study, How to run a police department case study, The 5Cs of reinvention, p. 417
The 5Cs Reinventors’ Handbook  (to be provided in class)

Evaluation Criteria
The purpose of this exercise is to provide a conceptual blueprint for reinventing how your agency does business and making it more efficient.  Your grade is a function of your understanding of the reinventing government ideas, your creativity in applying these concepts to the agency, the barriers to reinvention efforts, and the overall persuasiveness of your argument.  As part of the assignment, you are required to provide a copy of your paper to the head of your agency.  When you are writing your paper, they are your intended audience.