Reinventing local government: Beyond rhetoric to application

Date of Completion

January 1998


Political Science, General|Political Science, Public Administration




No recent book, though, on government reform has captured the attention of the taxpaying public who expect government to provide more services but does not want to pay more in taxes than Reinventing Government (Osborne and Gaebler 1992). Written by David Osborne, a journalist, and Ted Gaebler, a city manager, Reinventing Government describes ways some local governments and other public agencies transformed themselves by applying principles contained in the concept now referred to as REGO (reinventing government). Since Reinventing Government (Osborne and Gaebler 1992) and a similar book, Breaking Through Bureaucracy (Barzelay 1992), have been published, they, with their principles to change how government operates, have spawned what one scholar termed the framework for reform (Carroll 1996). REGO has been cited as the intellectual well-spring and the reason for the federal government's examination of how it provides services (Gore 1993) and for the lively debate among academics about whether to maintain the principles of (traditional) bureaucratic government. The debate over the effectiveness of reinventing government takes on greater significance when the participants are city managers who are empowered to reform their local governments. Because reinventing government contains concepts that promote change in everything from the relationships local governments have with citizens, since citizens are known as customers, to how revenues are generated, since fees are asked for services in lieu of increased taxes, the degree of support for and the application of REGO principles by city managers nationally is important to understand. This dissertation seeks to determine if city managers support, and take specific actions, such as including money or programs in their executive budgets, that apply any and all REGO principles. By knowing this information it may help to determine if local governments are beginning another period of reform as they did in the early decades of the 20th century. ^