In Bring Back the Bureaucrats, John J. DiIulio Jr., one of America’s most respected political scientists and an adviser to presidents in both parties, summons the facts and statistics to show us how America’s big government actually works and why reforms that include adding a million more people to the federal workforce by 2035 might actually help to slow government’s growth while improving its performance.
Starting from the underreported reality that the size of the federal workforce hasn’t increased since the early 1960s even though the federal budget has skyrocketed and the number of federal programs has ballooned, Bring Back the Bureaucrats tells us what our elected leaders won’t: there simply are not enough federal workers to do work that’s critical to our democracy.
Government in America, DiIulio reveals, is Leviathan by Proxy, a grotesque form of debt-financed big government that guarantees bad government:
Washington relies on state and local governments, for-profit firms, and nonprofit organizations to implement federal policies and programs. Big-city mayors, defense industry contractors, nonprofit executives and other federal proxies lobby incessantly for more federal spending.
The proxy system chokes on chores as distinct as cleaning up toxic waste sites, caring for hospitalized veterans, collecting taxes, handling plutonium, and policing more than $100 billion a year in “improper payments.”
The lack of enough competent, well-trained federal civil servants figured in the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina and in the troubled launch of Obamacare “health exchanges.”
Bring Back the Bureaucrats is further distinguished by the presence of E. J. Dionne Jr. and Charles Murray, two of the most astute voices from the political left and right, respectively, who offer their candid responses to DiIulio at the end of the book.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments / ix
Introduction / 3
Part 1: Bring Back the Bureaucrats by John J. DiIulio Jr.
1: Leviathan by Proxy / 13
2: Big Brother Is Outsourcing: Leveraged, Not Limited, Government / 29
3: The Federal Workforce Is Overloaded, Not Bloated / 55
4: If We Knew Then What We Know Now / 79
5: More Federal Bureaucrats, Less Big/Bad Government / 91
Part 2: Dissenting Points of View
6: The Government We Need for the Things We Want by E. J. Dionne Jr. / 115
7: No Cure for the Sclerotic State by Charles Murray / 123
Epilogue: Reply to E. J. Dionne Jr. and Charles Murray by John J. DiIulio, Jr. / 131
Notes / 143
About the Contributors / 167
“Bring Back the Bureaucrats is excellent: [it] points to a sprawling executive outsourced to an army of unaccountable contractors.”
“The political scientist John DiIulio has written a thoughtful book, Bring Back the Bureaucrats, arguing that we need more, not fewer, career officials, to accomplish all of the tasks that Congress has assigned to the administrative state. Regardless of whether you accept his argument, it is clear that career officials do dominate the federal government, and presidential administrations need to take that into account.”
“Bring Back the Bureaucrats is a small book (it’ll fit in a jacket pocket) with a big message. John DiIulio argues powerfully and persuasively that the main problem with US Government is not that it’s overbloated but that it’s understaffed. DiIulio takes aim at the false economy of preventing the federal government from hiring more bureaucrats, whilst it delivers its huge and increasingly complex programmes through a vast array of contractors, sub-contractors, and non-profit organizations, as well as state and local governments. It’s a thought provoking argument which has significant implications for the development business, as we too deliver more aid through a range of proxies from multilaterals to NGOs to private companies.”
“Bring Back the Bureaucrats by John DiIulio, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, is a brisk, lively polemic that surprisingly calls, on conservative grounds, for an enormous increase in the federal civil service….” “Instead of endorsing the usual conservative line on government, Bring Back the Bureaucrats highlights the dangers of contracting out as part of a broader argument about the rise of what he terms ‘leviathan by proxy.’”
John DiIulio’s Bring Back the Bureaucrats (Templeton Press) is an eye-opening account of the hollowing out of American government. DiIulio, an expert on public administration at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that the US has fewer full-time federal officials than it did in 1960, while the amount of money they dispense has increased fivefold. In their place is a legion of for-profit contractors and non-profit NGOs with highly mixed motives, about which we know very little. In the process, misguided American hostility to government has produced a huge challenge for democratic accountability.
“DiIulio’s ameliorative for our republic’s ills is counterintuitive: We can curb government growth and improve its performance by hiring one million more bureaucrats by 2035. The idea is not a batty one: Since 1960, federal spending has quintupled, yet the number of civil servants (two million) has remained flat…Certainly, some agencies would benefit from more staff.”
“For the six years of the Obama presidency, or perhaps the last 35 years since Ronald Reagan’s election, American politics has been dominated by a debate on the size and role of the federal government. This argument, while intense and consequential, has often lacked one element: actual knowledge about the size and role of the federal government.”
“Into this gap, political scientist John DiIulio has thrown a slim volume titled Bring Back the Bureaucrats. It is a reproof to everyone who hates government or loves government without understanding what it does — which covers most of the American ideological spectrum.”
“Everyone should be upset with the problem DiIulio describes — both those who prioritize limited government and those who prioritize effective government….The responses to “Leviathan by proxy” will differ according to ideology. But any serious political movement on the right or left must now be a government reform movement.”
“If you like counterintuitive, this is the book for you. Dilulio, a George W. Bush White House official, argues the federal government needs more staff—that career bureaucrats do a better job than contract employees and consultants.”
“The US government is a bloated, dysfunctional Leviathan, and the only way to fix it is by hiring a million more federal bureaucrats.”
“That’s the latest argument from John DiIulio, the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society. DiIulio is no stranger to provocative policy ideas. He ran George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative in the 2000s. His new book exemplifies his knack for intellectual attention-getting. He all but invites readers to judge it by its cover, which features a graph contrasting the 50-year quintupling of annual federal spending against the stagnant number of civilian government workers tasked with overseeing it, under the title Bring Back The Bureaucrats.”
“Editor’s Note: Government failure is something everyone complains about, but does little to address. Over the next two weeks, FixGov will review work on government reform: identifying problems in the federal government and offering solutions to get government back in working order. In this first installment, Elaine Kamarck looks at two works: John DiIulio’s Bring Back the Bureaucrats& Paul Glastris’ & Haley Sweetland Edwards’ ‘The Big Lobotomy.’”
“In John J. DiIulio Jr.’s new book Bring Back the Bureaucrats he calls the modern American government ‘Leviathan by Proxy.’ Leviathan by Proxy refers to the fact that in recent decades the U.S. government has ‘…increased its spending more than fivefold while the full time civilian workforce remained largely flat.’ Rather than hire more civil servants the government has contracted out an enormous amount of its work in what DiIluio calls ‘… a uniquely American, superficially antistatist form of big government.’”
“If you pair DiIulio’s new book with an important article by Paul Glastris and Haley Sweetland Edwards that appeared in the summer 2014 issue of The Washington Monthly called ‘The Big Lobotomy,’ it becomes evident that the executive branch is not the only branch that’s in trouble. While the executive branch has been outsourcing its work to private and not-for-profit contractors, the Legislative branch has been cutting professional staff, reducing staff at organizations like GAO and CRS which were designed to help Congress analyze issues, and moving staff from committees to district offices—all of which they argue constitute a ‘self-lobotomy.’ Glastris and Edwards argue that, like the executive branch, Congress has also outsourced too much. The decrease in professional staff has led to a ‘…massive falloff in congressional oversight.’ Policy expertise has been outsourced to ideologically motivated think tanks and to K Street.”