In This Review

Reinventing the Pentagon: How the New Public Management Can Bring Institutional Renewal
Reinventing the Pentagon: How the New Public Management Can Bring Institutional Renewal
By Fred Thompson and L. R. Jones
Jossey-Bass, 1994, 298 pp

A brisk and cheery argument that the Pentagon can be fixed -- mainly by doing sensible things like reducing the amount of effort that goes into regulations designed to prevent contractors from defrauding the government. Perhaps, but one wonders if the authors can be quite as confident as they sound. This book discusses the politics of congressional oversight (which is why a lot of those laws come about), but argues that Congress can be persuaded to stop much of what the Pentagon usually views as meddling. There are some lacunae: the authors have surprisingly little to say about a personnel system that makes it impossible for aspiring businessmen (as opposed to lawyers and academics) to spend some time in government service without undertaking a vow of poverty immediately thereafter. Cynics will doubt that "the new public management," sensible though it may be, will have much of a chance in Washington, but they should read this book, if only to learn what the arguments on the other side are.