The usual assumption among the “good government” groups is that Presidential candidates focus on policy issues in their campaigns and don’t really talk much about how government should be run. Like everything else in the 2008 campaign, this seems to not be the case.
Each of the major candidates seems to have a government reform agenda of some sort. A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani had each made some announcements. Since then, Washington Post’s Steve Barr did a summary of where candidates stand on government jobs vs. contractors.
Giuliani expanded his platform in a speech in early June, saying that he would adopt some version of the New York City Police Department’s CompStat approach to major policy challenges, for example creating a BorderStat. Washington Post’s Perry Bacon reports that he also recommends a FedStat to monitor federal agencies, a TerrorStat, and a GapStat to reduce the number of federal employees. . . . It looks like the “Stat” approach has achieved bipartisan status, with differences in how it is applied.
Another bipartisan good government theme seems to be an emphasis on greater transparency in what government does. Traditional transparency has focused on how policy was made; now the light is shining on government performance and engaging citizens rather than auditors as the watchdogs. Clinton includes several transparency elements in her platform, such as publicizing agency budgets and tracking government effectiveness. John McCain’s transparency emphasis is on earmarks. Barak Obama is also emphasizing greater transparency, with a call to” empowering citizens to crack down on government waste.”
In another commitment to government reform, John Edwards has recommended a radical overhaul of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by decentralizing its operations and reducing its staff by 1,500.