Like Detroit, Washington Has Lost Its Way; Let's Restructure Washington While We're at It
Congress has been suitably tough in its advice to Detroit, calling for "a complete restructuring" of our failing auto makers. But how about restructuring Washington? Like Detroit, Washington has lost its way. Congress should take its own advice and retool Washington. Here's how:
1. Cut "legacy obligations." Congress lectures Detroit about a one-time loan of $15 billion, yet year after year Congress hands $10 billion to corporate farmers. And that's only one of hundreds of institutionalized pork-barrel projects.
2. Overhaul civil service. Civil-service rules make hiring an ordeal and firing practically impossible. Rigid job classifications are far more onerous than UAW work rules, guaranteeing massive inefficiency. The federal government employs about 2.5 million civilians, about 10 times the number directly employed in the U.S. by Detroit. The bloat is legendary.
3. Impose change from the outside. Entrenched cultures rarely fix themselves. That's more true with Washington than with Detroit -- Washington does not have Toyota or Honda pushing it to compete and innovate. President-elect Barack Obama is committed to change, but, like his predecessors, he will find himself nibbled to exhaustion by thousands of special interests.
Philip Howard in today's Wall Street Journal