By Karthik Nachiappan. In a recent commentary for Governance, David Coen and Tom Pegram argue that the best way to improve global governance research is by synthesizing advances from three disciplines – International Relations, International Law and European Public Policy to enable scholars map, grapple with and overcome hindrances to global public policy-making. Though instructive, their agenda will not explain why ‘global governance is not working’ since their focus does not extend to the politics around the gridlock in global governance today.
By M.A. Thomas. I appreciate the time Clay Wescott took to write a review of Govern Like Us: U.S. Expectations of Poor Countries, published in September in this journal. However, his review misses the central message of the book. Govern Like Us does not seek to explain varieties of governance and does not offer poverty as the sole explanatory factor. It is not a book about development, and so has little to say about the future growth and governance trajectories of low-income countries. On the contrary, it argues the need for a U.S. foreign policy to address the present: how poor governments govern now and will govern for decades at least.
Kathryn Newcomer responds to Don Kettl’s commentary The Merit Principle In Crisis: Framing questions to address in any area of research or evaluation is the first, and most critical step. We live in an era of evidence-based policy, and the evidence that is offered to inform decision makers will only be deemed useful if the questions raised are on target. For those of us who are committed to improving the quality of democratic governance, we must carefully consider which questions to address and determine what evidence will convince the targeted audiences.
Don Kettl has raised a number of important questions, and I agree with many of his points, but I suggest we focus our scholarly attention on one fundamental question: How should government agencies plan for, recruit and develop the workforce they need to accomplish the mission-driven objectives that are democratically established for them? Read the rest of this entry »
Neil Bradley responds to Don Kettl’s commentary The Merit Principle in Crisis: Don Kettl raises a series of five interesting questions. Yet, only two of them are relevant to issue of preserving (or creating) a merit-based civil service system.
Kettl’s second question, “whether cutting the number of government employees would really help cut the size of government,” is irrelevant. Whatever the size of government we need a well-functioning civil service. Any answer to Kettl’s third question, “Have government employees simply become the easiest target for government bashers?” would tell us very little about whether the current civil service system works properly. His fifth and final question – “How does the role of people in government bureaucracy shape the role of government in society?” – is an important philosophical discussion, but again it tells us little about how to effectuate merit-based civil service.
This leave us with two pertinent questions. Read the rest of this entry »
Ron Sanders replies to Don Kettl’s commentary, The merit principle in crisis: With all due respect to my good friend and colleague, Don Kettl, I take exception to his initial premise. I do not believe that the merit principle(s) which ground the American civil service are under attack. Those principles—which include such axioms as appointment based on qualifications and competence, non-discrimination in all aspects of employment, and due process for termination—are enduring and hard to dispute. Indeed, I doubt that even the most vocal bureaucrat basher would argue that government employment should be based on political patronage or family ties, or that those that hire civil servants should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race or sex or age.
Thus, I would contend that it is not the lofty merit principles that are under attack. Rather, I believe that it is the way those principles have been operationalized—that is, today’s merit system—that is under attack…and in my humble opinion, deservedly so. That system, with its roots planted firmly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has become far too rule-bound and rigid, ossified and obsolete, with layer upon layer of procedure and process supplanting good judgment. Read the rest of this entry »