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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Outsourcing waste, fraud and abuse....

The political stump speech is hardly news or worth noting, especially if (like me) you hang around New Hampshire these days where the presidential primary is well underway and stump speeches are frequent enough as to be "no news'.

But yesterday candidate Hilary Clinton gave a speech in Manchester worthy of special note in the NY Times -- and worthy of special note to those of us who study and teach public administration.

It was, for sure, one of those "let's get rid of the waste, fraud and abuse" talks which usually take the form of bureaucracy bashing one-liners and in the past have been so tiresome that her spouse (who was actually excited about the topic) was once warned never to hold forth on the topic before a crowd.

But this was different, for it was not merely about waste, fraud and abuse in government programs -- it was about all the waste fraud and abuse that comes about due to the behavior of contractors!!! The way to save money, she implies, is to have public goods and service supplied by public employees -- real bureaucrats, working for real bureaucracies!!!!!

Of course she made reference to the work done by Al Gore's reinventing government project which was tossed without hesitation by the Bush Administration and replaced slowly and quietly with their own outsourcing initiatives, including faith-based initiatives. The message, however, is that the Gore National Performance Review (as it was once known) did more by streamlining agency operations than outsourcing has done under Bush -- and with less "waste, fraud and abuse"....

Now this is no simple message to get across, but it interesting that the Clinton campaign is attempting it. Let's hope the other candidates catch this issue wave....


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