Bardach’s Things Governments Do

… a core concept used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107


Concept description

In his A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis – The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving (reference below), Eugene Bardach provides an Appendix on Things Governments Do.

The following are direct quotes. Note that in the Appendix, each section includes a “Why you might do it” section following “What you might do”.

I. Taxes
What you might do (p. 141):

1. Add a new tax

2. Abolish an old tax

3. Change the tax rate

4. Change the tax base

5. Improve collection machinery

6. Tax an externality

II. Regulation
What you might do (p.142):

1. Add a new regulatory regime or abolish an old one

2. Write new standards or remove old ones

3. Tighten or loosen existing standards

4. Ban or prohibit something entirely

5. Improve the scientific and technical basis for writing standards

6. Close or open loopholes

7. Add, train, or better supervise enforcement personnel

8. Improve targeting of enforcement to catch bad apples, or to increase deterrence, or to increase resource efficiency

9. Raise or lower the level of effective sanctions

10. Tighten or loosen appeals procedures

11. Change reporting and auditing procedures

12. Add, subtract, or improve complaint mechanisms for workers or the public

III. Subsidies and Grants
What you might do (p.143):

1. Add a new one

2. Abolish an old one

3. Change the level

4. Change the marginal rate

5. Introduce, abolish, or change a formula by which subsidies are allocated

6. Modify the conditions of receipt or eligibility

7. Loosen enforcement

8. Tighten enforcement

IV. Service Provision
What you might do (p. 144):

1. Add a new service

2. Expand an existing service

3. Organize outreach to potential beneficiaries not now using the service

4. Better customize an existing service to a particular subpopulation

5. Provide vouchers for a particular service so that people may choose from an array of competitive service providers

6. Link two or more existing service delivery systems to take advantage of potential synergies or to make life easier for service recipients

7. Reduce service users’ difficulties in accessing the service by

a. going online

b. computerizing intake and eligibility processes

c. simplifying forms

d. colocating services

e. permitting appointments by phone

f. facilitating personal inquiries and complaints

g. improving payment options

V. Agency Budgets
What you might do (p. 145):

1. Add a lot to the budget

2. Add just a little to the budget

3. Hold the budget at last year’s level

4. Cut the budget a little

5. Cut the budget a lot—to the point of beginning to terminate the agency

6. Shift allocations from one budget item to another

VI. Information
What you might do (p. 145):

1. Require disclosure

2. Direct government rating or certification

3. Standardize display or format

4. Simplify information

5. Subsidize production of information

6. Subsidize dissemination of information

VII. The Structure of Private Rights
What you might modify or create (p. 146):

1. Contract rights and duties

2. Property rights

3. Liability duties

4. Family law

5. Constitutional rights

6. Labor law

7. Corporate law

8. Criminal law

9. Dispute-resolving institutions other than litigation and courts

VIII. The Framework of Economic Activity
What you might do (p. 147):

1. Encourage competition

2. Encourage concentration

3. Control prices and wages (and profits)

4. Decontrol prices and wages (and profits)

5. Control output levels

6. Decontrol output levels

7. Change tax incentives up or down

8. Provide public jobs

9. Abolish public jobs

IX. Education and Consultation
What you might do (p. 148):

1. Warn of hazards or dangers

2. Raise consciousness through exhortation or inspiration

3. Provide technical assistance

4. Upgrade skills and competencies

5. Change values

6. Professionalize the providers of a service through training or certification or licensing

X. Financing and Contracting
What you might do (p. 148):

1. Create a new (governmental) market

2. Abolish an existing (governmental) market

3. Alter reimbursement rates

4. Change the basis for reimbursement (e.g., cost-plus, price per unit, sliding scale dependent on quantity, performance bonuses or penalties)

5. Lease governmentally held resources

6. Alter user fee structure

7. Redesign bidding systems

8. Change contract enforcement methods

9. Furnish loans

10. Guarantee loans

11. Subsidize loans

12. Set up a public enterprise

13. Dismantle a public enterprise

14. “Privatize” a hitherto public enterprise

15. Modify insurance arrangements

16. Change procurement practices

XII. Bureaucratic and Political Reforms
What you might do (p. 149):

The number of possibilities is too great to list. It ranges across such activities as reorganizations, replacing top supervisory personnel, improving information systems, and raising wages and salaries.

See also: Implementation Theory.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Designing the Delivery Model (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107


Eugene Bardach (2012), A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis – The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving, Fourth Edition, Sage, Los Angeles.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 13 September 2017.

Image: From cover of Bardach book, accessed 6 April 2017.