Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Church Signs

Have you ever been driving down the road and had your attention captured by a saying posted on a church sign? You know, sayings like these:

Free Trip to Heaven... Details Inside!

Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins.

Come in and pray today. Beat the Christmas rush!

How will you spend eternity-Smoking or Non-smoking?

If you're headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.

This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing? (U R)

In the dark? Follow the Son.

Running low on faith? Stop in for a fill-up.

If you can't sleep, don't count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd.

I have a couple of questions about this whole enterprise. Where do churches get their sayings from? Are pastors around the country really that witty? Or is there a service that supplies funny sign messages? Why do churches use their sign space in this way? Is there any evidence that their humor brings people in the front door? And, finally, what is your favorite church sign saying?

While you're mulling these questions over, here's one that a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless...unless he outs himself!) came up with recently: Get your finger out of your nose and start picking the Lord.

~Steve

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Press Release

OK, I'm going to indulge myself with a second post on my new book. It is a second edition after all. What you will find below is the press release that CQ Press, our publisher, has put together for the new version. You can click here to go to CQ's website directly.

Hopefully, this will make you run out and order lots of copies...the holiday shopping season is just around the corner!

CQ Press says:

It is nearly impossible to look at the implementation of any policy—from testing at an elementary school to testing of a pharmaceutical drug—and avoid seeing the impact and influence of public bureaucracies. Given the importance of their work, and the accountability they owe to the American public, the performance of public bureaucracies must be assessed in a systematic manner. Working through four key perspectives—bounded rationality, principal-agent theory, interest group mobilization, and network theory—Gormley and Balla give students the analytic power needed to comprehensively evaluate performance, or the give-and-take between decision makers, managers, elected officials, organized interests, and individuals.

In addition to updating the book to account for recent developments and new scholarship—from the No Child Left Behind Act and presidential appointments to the Program Assessment Rating Tool and changes to the rulemaking process—the authors apply their working theories in a new chapter on the politics of disaster. With in-depth coverage of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the avian flu, students can learn important lessons from looking at similar events and crises through the same analytical lenses.

Table of Contents

1. Bureaucracies as Policymaking Organizations

The Contours of Public Bureaucracy
Accountability and Performance in Public Bureaucracies
Accountability and Its Many Faces
The Push for Performance
Accountability and Performance: Theories and Applications

2. Bureaucratic Reasoning

The Bounded Rationality Model
Simplified Problem Solving
Implications for Policy Analysis
Motivation
Consequences of Bounded Rationality
Conclusion

3. The Bureaucracy’s Bosses

Delegation, Adverse Selection, and Moral Hazard
Why Bureaucracy?
Managing Delegation
Principal-Agent Theory and the Bureaucracy’s Clients
Principals and Principles

4. The Bureaucracy’s Clients

The Benefits, Costs, and Politics of Public Policy
The Rise and Fall of Iron Triangles
The Venues of Client Participation
Client Influence on Bureaucratic Policymaking
Clients and the Institutions of Government
Client Participation: Three Lessons and Beyond

5. Networks

Network Theory
The Tools Approach
Intergovernmental Relations
Public-Private Partnerships
Partnerships without Contracts
Interagency Networks
Interagency Coordination
Czars
Networks’ Effectiveness
Tools’ Effectiveness
Networks: Some Conclusions

6. The Politics of Disaster Management

Hurricane Katrina: A Crisis with Precedent
September 11, 2001: A Crisis without Precedent
Avian Flu Pandemic: A Crisis in the Making?
Evaluating Bureaucracy in Light of the Theories

7. Why Are Some Bureaucracies Better Than Others?
Rating the Performance of Agencies
Explaining Variations in Performance
Bureaucracy in the Twenty-First Century

Testimonials

“In an era when the demand for performance has come to rival the enduring quest for political accountability, William T. Gormley and Steven J. Balla provide an effective introduction for understanding the complex yet positive role that the public bureaucracy performs in American democracy. Drawing from contemporary theoretical approaches, they explain not only internal bureaucratic behavior but also how the public bureaucracy interacts with and responds to constitutional actors, citizens, and other organizations. Case studies of several national and state government organizations illustrate the value of theory for understanding how performance and accountability can be achieved in public bureaucracies. The accessible style makes this text well suited for either introductory or advanced study of political science and public administration."

-David Houston, University of Tennessee

I am very favorably impressed with Gormley and Balla’s Bureaucracy and Democracy, and I will continue to use it in the future. It offers a unique blend of updated scholarship and analytical treatment in a format that is understandable to a wide student population (both undergraduate and graduate). I like how its approach emphasizes accountability and performance from various frameworks, and it works well for students when analyzing current events that cry out for answers to performance and accountability questions."

- Richard Ghere, University of Dayton


“Gormley and Balla’s Bureaucracy and Democracy is a good, easy to understand overview of bureaucracy and democracy. It is well written, well organized, and contains many applicable and entertaining examples. I particularly like how the authors use the four lenses – or frameworks – to understand and analyze bureaucracies, and I find that these frameworks make the book particularly attractive and adoptable.”

-Lorenda A. Naylor, University of Baltimore

Bio(s)

William T. Gormley Jr. is University Professor and professor of government and public policy at Georgetown University. He is the author of several books, including Organizational Report Cards, with David Weimer and Everybody’s Children: Child Care as a Public Problem.

Steven J. Balla is associate professor of political science, public policy and public administration, and international affairs at George Washington University. He is also a research associate at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, and a member of the International Working Group on Online Consultation and Public Policy Making.

~Steve

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Not Just a One-Hit Wonder!

Here's some great news on the professional front...the second edition of my book has hit the stands! My co-author (Bill Gormley from Georgetown) and I worked much of the past academic year revising the first edition...updating examples and adding lots of new material. The end result is a book that is noticeably fatter (more muscular, I should say!) than the first time around.

The biggest change is a new chapter addressing the government bureaucracy's preparation for and response to major disasters. We focus specifically on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the H5N1 avian flu. You won't find journalistic chronologies here, though we do run through some of the main events and decisions. And you won't find a lot of "Monday morning quarterbacking," though we are not shy in assigning credit and blame when called for. Rather, what we provide are narratives grounded in social scientific analytical frameworks. Now that sounds exciting, doesn't it!?

One little cool feature of the second edition is the cover art. At least I think it's cool. Notice the split between the dark blue bottom and the light blue top. I read this as a homage to Bill's and my respective Ph.D. institutions. Duke's color is a darker blue, while UNC (where Bill did his graduate work) is a light blue school. Thus proving that a Blue Devil and a Tar Heel can not only work together, but actually get along!

~Steve