Make Government Work
Nowhere is the lack of personal responsibility more pervasive than in the management of government. In the effort to avoid bad decisions by government officials, we have created a byzantine system that discourages efficiency and prohibits accountability. The result is government that doesn’t work sensibly.
Public administration needs a radical overhaul. Neutral hiring remains a good idea, but we need to move away from the current system of tenure, detailed union work rules, and exhaustive due process protections. The union power over government has become as corrupt as the spoils system. The cure has become the disease.
Individual accountability should replace most bureaucracy. We can provide safety nets based on years of service, and a civil service review panel can review firing decisions—but that review should be an informal process, not a multi-year legal proceeding.
Restoring accountability of government officials has another virtue: It is the precondition to simplification of regulation. There no need to prescribe exactly how to meet regulatory goals if officials can be fired when they abuse their regulatory discretion. For both regulator and regulated, accountability offers the only escape from suffocating bureaucracy.