Paul C. Light’s Reports on Government Reform Garner New Media Attention

Monday, March 30, 2020
The Volcker Alliance
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Paul C. Light, Volcker Alliance nonresident senior fellow and NYU professor, discussed findings and recommendations from his latest issue paper at a media briefing attended by several reporters at NYU’s Washington, DC center on February 26, 2020. The paper, entitled The Rebuilder’s Dilemma: Charting the Impact of Government Reform on the 2020 Election, provides fresh data on what Americans want from government reform and how that will impact voters’ choices in the 2020 election. The report shows that the public demand for very major government reform is near a twenty-year high: the number of Americans who believe government needs major reform rose from 37 percent in 1997 to 61 percent in November 2019.

Light’s work on government reform has long been cited by journalists and scholars, including recently on the subject of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Well-known journalist Fareed Zakaria quoted Light’s 2017 issue paper “People on People on People” in an article in the Washington Post on March 26, 2020:

“Federal agencies are understaffed but overburdened with mountains of regulations and politicized mandates and rules, giving officials little power and discretion… The scholar who has long studied this topic, Paul Light, notes that under President John F. Kennedy, the Cabinet departments had 17 ‘layers’ of hierarchy. By the time Trump took office, there were a staggering 71 layers. Both political parties have contributed to the problem, making the federal government a caricature of bureaucratic inefficiency.”

Zakaria cited the paper again in his segment on CNN, “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

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