Why Government Can’t Talk to Citizens

Whose to blame when government services don’t work? I got to review an excellent book on the last mile of policy for Deseret.

Social studies students learn how a bill becomes a law, but Jennifer Pahlka would argue that you can’t stop the story at the president’s signature. The administrative infrastructure and vendor contracts that determine how a federal, state or local law is put into practice often act as an inadvertent, unconstitutional veto. Often, as the first people who tried to register for Obamacare discovered, the web developer has as much power as the congressional committee in determining what government does.

Pahlka is the founder of Code for America and the author of “Recoding America: Why Government Is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better.” […] Her new book is a chronicle of the secret gridlock that can cripple even the most enthusiastically bipartisan policy. The government, culturally and legally, has a preference for contracting out the software that underpins our public policy. As Pahlka shows, this means our government often winds up serving its vendors, not its citizens.

Read the rest at Deseret.