Donald F. Kettl

Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy

Donald F. Kettl is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Volcker Alliance. He is the author of many books, including Escaping Jurassic Government: How to Recover America's Lost Commitment to Competence, The Politics of the Administrative Process, System Under Stress and The Next Government of the United States. Kettl is a two-time recipient of the Louis Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration. In 2008, he won the American Political Science’s John Gaus Award for a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in political science and public administration. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University and has held appointments at University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Don’t Be Distracted By Trump’s 100-Day Plan

March 15, 2017 There’s an unusual political genius in Trump’s frantic first 100 days. But the real puzzles are lurking in the next 1,000 days. The 100-day plan is this: Disrupt everything that official Washington holds dear. Throw hundreds of balls in the air. Watch how they bounce. Grab the ones that bounce...

The Clumsy War Against the 'Administrative State'

February 28, 2017 President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, shook official Washington with his pledge before the Conservative Political Action Conference to ensure the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” He promised a battle: “If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.” In fact,...

How Trump Can Avoid the Reorganization Trap His Predecessors Fell Into

February 21, 2017 Any day now, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would lay the groundwork for reorganizing the federal government. It’s a monumental undertaking, and one that could stumble on a fundamental flaw: The former businessman’s instinct is to view government vertically, with agencies and programs run from...

Why Hiring Freezes Don’t Work

February 14, 2017 Team Trump rode into town determined to disrupt the federal government. One of the very first disrupters was a hiring freeze on federal employees, with a promise to reduce the size of government through attrition. That has certainly disrupted government—but it’s missed the chance for the real transformation that President...

How Reporters Misread Trump’s First Week in Office

January 27, 2017 Let’s look back at President Donald J. Trump’s amazing first-week flurry of executive orders: Not since the media coalesced around the “Trump can never win” meme have so many reporters gotten so much wrong. Much of the coverage has been apocalyptic, but most of the orders have been more pop...

Memo to the President: Collaboration Across Boundaries

December 29, 2016 Donald Trump enters office with an ambitious vision and many promises to keep. But he’ll quickly discover one important lesson: No current problem that matters fits within an individual government agency or, for that matter, any single level of government. The Trump administration will need a strong and effective strategy...

Memos to the President: How to Run Government Effectively

December 21, 2016 Political campaigns are a time of promises. Transitions are a time of frantic preparation. And then, perhaps too soon, it’s time to govern. Governing is the hard work of turning promises into legislation, budgets, actions and results. For the transition currently underway, the stakes are tremendously high. Large portions of...

Trump’s Risky, Off-the-Books Plan to Grow the Economy

December 6, 2016 When Donald Trump said he was going to build a wall and make the Mexican government pay for it, almost no one took him seriously. But there’s an important clue there about how he’ll run his presidency. Just look at the deal with Carrier to keep 1000 jobs in Indiana....

Why the GOP Plan for $300B in Federal Pay, Workforce Cuts Doesn't Add Up

March 28, 2016 The old chestnut of slashing the federal workforce through attrition is back again. For those who believe government is too big and want to shrink the workforce, the idea is attractive: Baby Boomers are leaving the federal workforce. Republicans want to save money. What could be an easier than filling...

If Improving Government Services Is Such a Good Idea, Why Aren't Elected Officials Doing It?

March 17, 2016 Fans of service delivery are convinced that delivery is truly the core of governance in the 21st century – and that the delivery unit is an organizational mechanism that governments ought to adopt. But if it’s such a good idea, why don’t more people care – especially elected officials? And...

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