Salvaged from the wreckage: Glimpses from a grand reorganization of the president, by the president, for the president

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Book Review

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Public Administration Review


American Society for Public Administration

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There is palpable concern in the literature about the declining competence and capacity of the federal bureaucracy (Moynihan and Roberts 2010; Thompson 2006), and the notion that civil servants are mere deficit swellers is gaining ground. Such sentiments could inspire government reorganization, but at some point in history, that remedy seems to have lost much of its appeal. In Nixon’s Super-Secretaries: The Last Grand Presidential Reorganization Effort, Mordecai Lee revisits a kind of ground zero of all modern reorganization ambitions. It describes the viability of Richard M. Nixon’s experiment, whose fate sheds light on the dramatic presidential retreat over the last few decades from participation in statutebased administrative reform (Light 2006). Since the 1970s, presidents have shied away from proposing major structural reorganizations, and Congress has delegated reorganization authority in ever more limited and constrained ways. Beyond demonstrating this turning point, Lee’s book seeks to reignite discussion of an overlooked management model.


Administrative agencies — Reorganization; Books – Reviews; Civil service


Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Political History | Public Administration




Review of: Mordecai Lee, Nixon’s Super-Secretaries: The Last Grand Presidential Reorganization Effort (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010). xv, 275 pp.


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