7 June 2013

“There is an urgent need to restore trust and pride in the way our public institutions implement policies – from the White House and Congress to statehouses, cities, and towns across our country and in democracies around the world.”

Not quite the promotional statement expected of a long serving leading public sector official. It does however “fit” with the views of someone serving as the Chairman of the World Justice Programme – the international movement that champions the rule of law  (and which will publish its annual report early in July.)  It comes from the launch announcement for the Volkner Alliance a new good government NGO set up by Paul Volkner, the Chairman of the US  Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan and Chair of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board under President Obama.

This may be yet another example of an old man concerned that the World is not what it used to be, looking back with rose tinted spectacles to society when he wielded influence over world economies. Volcker called for focusing greater attention on the practicalities of how policies are administered and implemented. He wants all policies allied with public purpose; he wants “strong incentives for public service rather than private gain”.

Perhaps not surprising for a 1970s liberal, disparaged by Republicans as a regulator, despite many years of association with the Rockefeller family and the Chase Bank. But now he has his “own” institution with which he wants “…to rekindle intellectual, practical and academic interest in the implementation of policy – the nuts and bolts of governance – and serve as a catalyst for sustained government improvement…”  A director of the Office of Budget Management recently left the Obama administration to lead the Volkner Alliance.

What is interesting is that a doyen of international political economy seems to think that the trustworthiness of government is diminishing and new standards are necessary to restore  a  proper focus on the implementation of public policy.