The Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and Reinvention: A Gentle Plea for Chaos1



    1. Thomas J. Pearsall Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His teaching and research interests include interest group politics, fiscal politics, bureaucratic politics, and state and local government. He currently serves as editor of The Journal of Politics.
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The relative influences of the unique and traditional elements of the Clinton-Gore National Performance Review (NPR) episode of bureaucratic reform are examined here as a means of exploring the underlying dynamics of executive-bureaucratic relationships. The first section of the article outlines the reinvention theory underlying NPR. This is followed by an analysis of how NPR deviated from that theory. The third section of the article considers what reforms might have been proposed by NPR had it taken reinvention theory more seriously. And fourth, the author discusses the deeper problems of presidential implementation of any reform not founded on enhanced hierarchical control of the bureaucracy by the White House. Finally, a unidirectional cycle of presidential reform is described, a cycle that seems impervious to and unconnected with scholarly work on management.