Reinvention in General

Reinventing Government at 20: An Interview with David Osborne
Many of David Osborne’s ideas about performance measurement, customer-oriented government, and managed competition in the public sector have now become commonplace. He had a significant impact on the Clinton administration and its attempt to reform the federal bureaucracy, as well as many other officials at all levels of government. Public Sector Inc. editor Stephen Eide recently interviewed David about differences between the early 90s and 2008-9 recessions, privatization, pension and health care reform and K-12 public education. This is an edited transcript.
(Public Sector, Inc., 2013)

The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in An Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis
An excerpt from David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson’s 2004 book, which argued that our current fiscal problems were here to stay, because of demographics and the rising cost of health care, and presented strategies to squeeze more performance out of public organizations for less money.
(David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson, Blueprint, 2004)

Reinventing Government: What A Difference A Strategy Makes
In a paper written for the United Nations 7th Global Forum on Reinventing Government, David Osborne describes the five strategies that have enough power to transform public bureaucracies into 21st century organizations that innovate as a way of life.
(David Osborne, June, 2007)

Rewriting Government’s DNA: Strategies for Building a Better Public Sector
An excerpt from our 1997 book, Banishing Bureaucracy, that describes the key pieces of bureaucratic DNA reinventors must recode and the strategies that have the most power to force those changes.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrick, The New Democrat, March/April, 1997)

Crisis as Opportunity
Beverly Stein, David Osborne, and Jim Chrisinger describe ways of getting more value from tax dollars or ideas for using the crisis to innovate.
(Public Strategies Website, 2009)

Budgeting in Tough Times: The Three Decisions and Nine Strategies
An early version of what became our 2004 book, The Price of Government. We describe Budgeting for Outcomes, plus nine strategies to cut costs without hurting performance.
(David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson, Spectrum: The Journal of State Government, Summer 2003)

Creating the New Management Systems We Need for 21st Century Governance
An important part of reinvention is the redesign of administrative systems such as budget and finance, personnel, procurement and auditing. Much has been written about redesigning such systems. But in addition, 21st century governments need entirely new management systems, to help them develop the new capacities they need to embrace continuous improvement. These 21st century management systems include strategic management, performance management, market testing, customer relations, labor-management cooperation, and learning systems.
(David Osborne, written for a conference in the United Arab Emirates, 2002)

Lessons From Abroad
The best clues to what managing in the new millennium will be like probably come from overseas, in countries where parliamentary systems have allowed reformers to sweep away many of the bureaucratic structures so characteristic of 20th century governance. Traveling to New Zealand or Great Britain feels like gazing into the future. Both countries have leaped far ahead of the United States into what they call “the new public management.”
(David Osborne, Government Executive, January 2000)

Civil Action
Imagine working in an organization that makes it so hard to fire nonperformers that managers have quit trying. Imagine hiring from a list of the three top scorers on a written test that has little to do with future performance on the job.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post, 1997)

Reinventing Your Government
A condensed version of a speech David Osborne gave in 1996, to a federal conference of reinventors, about how to get maximum leverage in transforming a public organization. It discusses the five levels at which reinventors must work (system, administrative systems, organizations, work processes, and people) and the five strategies that have the most power (Core, Consequences, Customer, Control, and Culture).
(David Osborne, Government Executive, September 1996)

Education Reform (back to top)

To Improve Schools, Let Teachers Run Them
By 2015, there were some 70 schools around the country run by their teachers rather than by a principal. They have several advantages: they retain their teachers longer than the typical school. (Nationwide, almost half of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years.) And because teachers understand that student motivation is the key to learning, they often use project-based learning and other ways to engage students. This article describes two such schools and draws conclusions about the overall phenomenon.
(David Osborne, Washington Post, January 16, 2015.)

Born on the Bayou: A New Model for American Education
A comprehensive report on the education miracle taking place in New Orleans, where all but five public schools have been transformed into charter schools and performance has roughly tripled in eight years.
(David Osborne, Third Way, September 2012)

Improving Charter School Accountability: The Challenge of Closing Failing Schools
Ten strategies to help states hold charter schools and their authorizers more accountable for performance, and to increase the number of failing charter schools that are closed by their authorizers.
(David Osborne, Progressive Policy Institute, 2012.]

Is New Orleans a Model for America?
Some reformers have argued for years that charters should become the system, that we should treat every public school like a charter. With parental choice, freedom from most district rules and constraints, and accountability for performance, charters simply represent a better way to organize public education—or so the argument goes. Over the past seven years, New Orleans has conducted the nation’s first serious test of this proposition, and the results could well shake the foundations of American education.
(David Osborne, Education Week, September 12, 2012)

Breaking the Monopoly
David Osborne advocates a 21st century education system, in which school districts turn all or most of their schools into charter schools, with performance constricts.
(David Osborne, Washington Post Magazine, July 23, 2000)

Healthy Competition
A new study demonstrates that competition from charter schools is forcing public school districts to innovate, to compete with charters.
(David Osborne, The New Republic, October 4, 1999)

Rewriting School Rules
Imagine, for a moment, a public education system in which every school is a charter school. (David Osborne, 1999)

At-Risk Alternatives
In most American cities, public leaders wring their hands about “at-risk kids” — those who drop out, get pregnant or get into drugs or gangs. No one knows what to do with them, and everyone fears they will create a lifetime of social problems. That’s why Minnesota created a network of 290 alternative schools, many operated on contract by nonprofit organizations, that are free to develop entirely new models.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)

Schools Without Boundaries
Few issues in American education are more controversial than school choice. Seventeen states have passed public school choice laws, giving students the right to leave their school district and attend another public school.
(David Osborne, Washington Post, 1996)

Laptop U
Many schools have struggled to integrate computers into day-to-day learning, with little success. The reasons are well known: not enough money, not enough training and not enough faculty members willing to rebuild their courses around computer software. These schools could learn a thing or two from the University of Minnesota at Crookston, a small college just 100 miles from the Canadian border.
(David Osborne, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)

American Politics (back to top)

2012 Will Determine the Nation’s Course
ONCE IN a great while, an election comes along that determines the nation’s course for a generation or more. In 1896, Republican William McKinley’s victory secured the political and economic ascendance of big business over rural and agricultural interests. In 1936, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s resounding victory cemented the rise of an activist federal government determined to fight the depression, defend workers’ rights, and help the poor and elderly. Today we have reached another crossroads. The 2012 election will determine our response to economic stagnation and the fiscal time bomb that threatens our economic future.
(David Osborne, Boston Globe, September 18, 2011)

Raising Taxes Can Improve the Economy and Quality of Life
Nationally, state and local governments are shedding 35,000 employees a month, taking the wind out of the recovery’s sails. Yet few public leaders have the courage to raise taxes. They should think again. Republicans have sold the public a bill of goods with their propaganda that taxes always and everywhere kill economic growth.
(David Osborne, unpublished, 2011)

Can This President Be Saved? A Six-Point Plan To Beat the One-Term Odds
An open memo to President Clinton, by David Osborne.
(David Osborne, Washington Post Magazine, January 8, 1995)

Reinventing State Governments (back to top)

Reinventing Maine Government: How Mainers Can Shape a Sustainable Government and a New Prosperity
An in-depth set of proposals for reforming state and local government in Maine, published in 2010.
(David Osborne and Alan Caron, Envision Maine, 2010)

Redesigning Ohio: Transforming Government Into a 21st Century Institution
A 2010 report that lays out 12 proposals for fundamental reform in Ohio state government, sponsored by the Ohio Chambers of Commerce.
(David Osborne and Greg Browning, Ohio Chambers of Commerce, December 2010)

The Price of Government in ‘Taxachusetts’
In an article written for the Op-Ed page of the Boston Globe, David Osborne asserts that the fiscal problems in Massachusetts are not the result of high taxes. By applying principles from The Price of Government, Osborne shows the state’s solution lies in investment in the workforce, the infrastructure and the state’s quality of life.
(David Osborne, Boston Globe, June 2004)

Reinventing the Federal Government (back to top)

Weeding the Federal Garden
A prescription for reinvention under President Obama.
(David Osborne, Government Executive, November 2008)

Strategic Management (back to top)

Strategic Management in Public Organizations
A paper by David Osborne, presented at the International Conference on Administrative Development, “Towards Excellence in Public Sector Performance”, at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
(David Osborne, November 2, 2009)

Effective Visioning
An in-depth guide to the use of visioning, a tool to achieve agreement on the kind of future a community (neighborhood, town, city, county, region, state, province, or nation) wants to create for itself – as well as shared commitment to create that future.
(David Osborne, unpublished, 2009)

Budgeting for Outcomes (back to top)

The Next California Budget: Buying Results Citizens Want at a Price they are Willing to Pay
An in-depth description of Budgeting for Outcomes, as well as step-by-step “how-to” instructions.
(David Osborne, Reason Foundation, 2010)

Budgeting for Outcomes: Better Results for the Price of Government
A detailed description of Budgeting for Outcomes and a step-by-step guide for local governments.
(David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson, International City/County Management Association, November 2004)

Results-Based Budgeting: Making Ends Meet in Washington State
A description of how Governor Gary Locke’s administration in Washington State, working with the Public Strategies Group, developed an approach to performance budgeting they called the “Priorities of Government,” later dubbed Budgeting for Outcomes by Osborne and Hutchinson in their book, The Price of Government.
(Wolfgang Opitz, Connie Nelson, and David Osborne, Spectrum: The Journal of State Government, Winter 2004)

The State Budget Should Focus on Outcomes Not Allocations
An analysis of Massachusetts’ fiscal crisis in 2004 and a proposal that the state use Budgeting for Outcomes.
(David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson, Commonwealth Magazine, Spring 2004)st

A Ratings Approach to Balancing State’s Budget
In an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle, David Osborne advocates reinventing California’s budgeting process using the Washington State “Budgeting for Outcomes” approach as a model
(David Osborne, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2004).

Make State Programs Compete for Funds
An op-ed arguing that California should use Budgeting for Outcomes to solve its perpetual fiscal crisis.
(David Osborne, Sacramento Bee, April 20, 2010)

Health Care Reform (back to top)

Reinventing Health Care: The Role of the States
An in-depth argument on how to structure health care reform, in 2009. Originally published as a chapter in Memos to the New President, published by the Progressive Policy Institute in January 2009.
(David Osborne, Progressive Policy Institute, January 2009)

RX for Reform
We can’t get to universal health coverage without taming cost. Here’s how to do so.
(David Osborne, Governing Magazine, May 2009)

Reinventing Health Care: The Role of the States
Health care costs have gone up 10 percent a year for 50 years, and they are bankrupting businesses, families, and our governments. Federal health reform must break this inflation rate–which means it must restructure health care markets. To do so effectively, the federal government will need states as partners. Health care markets differ radically in different regions, so successful reform models will differ from state to state. Federal action should encourage states to experiment, so we all learn what models are most effective in what types of markets.
(David Osborne, Real Clear Politics, February 25, 2009)

Welfare Reform (back to top)

Welfare Reality Check
Will welfare reform work? Those with long memories remember another massive public reform, called “deinstitutionalization.” In the name of helping mental patients, government moved them out of hospitals into “community” settings. The most visible result was homelessness. To escape a similar fate, states are going to have to find proven welfare-to-work strategies — quickly. Their search should lead them to a small company headquartered in New York City called America Works.
(David Osborne, Washington Post, 1995)

Accountability for Performance (back to top)

Paying for Results
An argument that federal agencies should move from performance measurement to performance management, by creating rewards and sanctions for employee teams, based on the results they produce.
(David Osborne, Government Executive, February 2000)

Grading Governments
Most citizens care about the performance of their public institutions. Parents worry about the quality of their children’s schools. City dwellers anxiously scan the latest crime statistics. Drivers pray for better roads, transit riders for dependable buses and subways, air travelers for effective air traffic control.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)

Bureaucracy Unbound
A year ago, Vice President Gore unveiled a proposal to turn many federal agencies into “performance-based organizations,” or PBOs. A few weeks ago the President repeated it on the campaign trail. The idea is to give these agencies far greater flexibility to manage their own budgets, personnel and purchasing, but in return to make them accountable for their performance.
(David Osborne, Washington Post, 1996)

Managed Competition (back to top)

The Service Secret
If you could cut the cost of your city’s services by 25 percent without hurting service quality, would you do it? The city of Indianapolis has done it with dozens of services — everything from managing its airports to treating its waste water. Savings will exceed $200 million over a seven year period. What’s the secret? Indianapolis requires many city agencies to compete with private companies for the right to deliver services.
(David Osborne, Washington Post Magazine, 1996)

Improving Customer Satisfaction (back to top)

Customer Quality Assurance: Making Organizations Accountable for Service Quality
An excerpt from Chapter 9 of The Reinventor’s Fieldbook: Tools for Transforming Your Government, this long article describes how to set customer service standards and use redress policies and performance awards to give them teeth. It also discusses the use of such tools in compliance organizations, and it presents a series of “lessons learned” by those who have used these tools.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Government Executive, August 2000)

Satisfaction Guaranteed?
Imagine buying a monthly pass for your commuter train or bus line and getting a 10 percent discount because the trains or buses ran late too often the previous month.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)

Empowering Employees (back to top)

The Union Solution
Most people who want to improve government’s performance in this country think unions are part of the problem, not part of the solution. But an increasing number of leaders–managers, elected officials and union officials–are showing there is another way: labor-management partnerships.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)

Share the Savings
Last year, the 304 county employees who clean up greater Seattle’s wastewater scrimped and saved every dime they could. Some cut back on the use of chemicals in the process of decaking the waste.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)

Culture Change (back to top)

The Culture Chasm
Now to drive cultural change throughout your organization, by changing habits, touching hearts, and winning minds.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Government Executive, September 2000)

Winning Compliance (back to top)

Winning Compliance
To achieve compliance, most public organizations rely on enforcement: detecting and punishing violators in order to deter inappropriate behavior. Enforcement has a long history, and it is often effective. But it is very expensive, both in the taxpayers’ dollars we spend on it and in the public support for government we squander in doing it. This article describes a set of nine alternative strategies, designed to win voluntary compliance at great savings.
(David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson, Government Executive, June 2000)

Work Process Improvement (back to top)

Mission Possible
Trying to improve a government organization can be like trying to change the direction of an aircraft carrier: You turn the rudder, then wait and wait for the big ship to move. But government managers don’t have that kind of time when they’re under the gun to cut costs and boost results. That’s why the U.S. Air Combat Command turned to an new tool: Action Workouts.
(David Osborne and Peter Plastrik, Washington Post Magazine, 1997)