Summary of If We Can Put a Man on the Moon...

Getting Big Things Done in Government

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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon... book summary
Once it had a plan, the US government sent men to the moon within a decade. Why can’t it get anything done anymore?


9 Overall

9 Applicability

9 Innovation

9 Style


Perhaps you’ve heard the old complaint: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we...?” This argument can apply to many challenges facing the US today. But help is on the way. Public policy experts William D. Eggers and John O’Leary have figured out an amusing way to discuss this very serious issue. They ask: Why does the US now seem unable to solve its most intractable problems? And their answers are discomfiting, though their jocular style may make you laugh and nod your head. They cite compelling examples – including the Challenger and Columbia disasters, Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war and Enron – to illustrate times when government worked and times when it didn’t. They find that democratic government is sown with seven “traps” that can keep its practitioners from getting crucial work done. But despair not! Here’s how good public administration can spring those traps open. getAbstract is confident this book will send policy makers, bureaucrats and concerned citizens over the moon.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How seven “traps” in the democratic system of government keep policy makers from succeeding and
  • How to avoid those traps.


Why Doesn’t Government Work Anymore?
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set out a national goal for the US when he called for “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth” before the end of the 1960s. America met that challenge just eight years later. “Today, however, Boston...
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About the Authors

William D. Eggers of Deloitte Research is an expert on how to make government work. John O’Leary of the Harvard Kennedy School is a veteran of Massachusetts’s government and an authority on public policy initiatives.

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    Sandra Kessler 4 years ago
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    Sandra Kessler 4 years ago
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    Patrick Brigger 4 years ago
    Will we ever live in the moon or even Mars??

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