Is running the government like a business a good idea?
New Public Management (NPM) is a relatively new style of government administration. In short, NPM revolves around running the government like a business. NPM focuses more specifically on seven different traits of running the government like a business:
- Customer orientation,
- Efficiency and effectiveness,
- Competition, possibly with the private sector,
- Entrepreneurial and adaptive,
- Short-term customer satisfaction instead of long-term,
- Downsizing, and
- Performance based reporting.
If the government focuses on satisfying these seven traits, NPM theorists believe the government should run more efficiently and cost less.
There are some possible disadvantages to running the government like a business. Some believe NPM requires the government to focus too much on “the numbers” instead of the community good. The community good can be hard to quantify and therefore, individuals believe it will be disregarded. Others find the NPM’s push for efficiency threatens democratic accountability and the will of the people because it does not allow for the proper bureaucratic checks to take place. This is much like Herman Finer’s argument, which I discussed a few weeks ago.
In the end, I do not believe these possible disadvantages are persuasive enough. I think New Public Management could be a very effective style of running the government because it would cut a lot of the “fat” and foster innovative ideas. Unfortunately, I am unsure of how realistic it would be to implement this type of management style across all the agencies.
What do you think?
Is New Public Management a good idea?
Do you see any aspects of this type of government administration in your agency?