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Lincoln Bell
Lincoln Bell

Osborne and Gaebler's Reinventing Government: A Classic Book on Transforming the Public Sector (PDF)

Osborne and Gaebler Reinventing Government PDF Download

Are you looking for a way to transform the public sector and make it more efficient, effective, and responsive? Do you want to learn how to apply the entrepreneurial spirit to government and unleash its potential for innovation and problem-solving? If so, you might be interested in reading Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector, a classic book by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler.

Osborne And Gaebler Reinventing Government Pdf Downloadl

In this article, we will give you an overview of what the book is about, why it is still relevant today, and how you can download a PDF version of it. We will also summarize the ten principles of reinventing government that the authors propose, analyze their benefits and challenges, and provide some examples of how they have been applied in different contexts and levels. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to reinvent government and make it work better for everyone.

The Ten Principles of Reinventing Government

The main thesis of Reinventing Government is that government can be fundamentally reframed by adopting a more entrepreneurial mindset and approach. The authors argue that traditional bureaucratic models of government are outdated, inefficient, and ineffective in dealing with the complex and dynamic challenges of the modern world. They suggest that government should learn from the best practices of successful businesses and organizations that have embraced change, innovation, competition, customer satisfaction, and accountability.

To do so, they propose ten principles around which entrepreneurial public organizations are built. These principles are:

  • Steer more than row: Government should focus on setting goals, policies, and standards, rather than delivering services directly. It should empower communities, nonprofits, businesses, and citizens to take more responsibility for service provision.

  • Empower communities rather than simply deliver services: Government should engage with local stakeholders and enable them to participate in decision-making, planning, budgeting, and evaluation. It should foster collaboration and partnership among diverse actors.

  • Encourage competition rather than monopoly: Government should introduce market mechanisms and incentives to stimulate innovation and efficiency. It should allow for choice, diversity, and experimentation among service providers.

  • Be driven by mission, not rules: Government should define its purpose clearly and communicate it effectively. It should align its actions with its values and goals. It should simplify its rules and regulations and allow for flexibility and discretion.

  • Fund outcomes rather than inputs: Government should measure its performance based on results rather than resources. It should reward success and penalize failure. It should allocate its funds based on evidence and impact.

  • Meet the needs of the customer, not the bureaucracy: Government should put the needs and preferences of its customers (the citizens) first. It should listen to their feedback and complaints. It should tailor its services to their expectations and satisfaction.

  • Concentrate on earning, not just spending: Government should generate its own revenues and reduce its dependence on taxes. It should seek new sources of income and savings. It should invest in assets and opportunities that create value.

  • Invest in prevention rather than cure: Government should anticipate and prevent problems rather than react to them. It should address the root causes of social and environmental issues. It should promote wellness and resilience.

  • Decentralize authority: Government should delegate power and responsibility to the lowest possible level. It should empower its employees and managers to make decisions and solve problems. It should respect local autonomy and diversity.

  • Solve problems by leveraging the marketplace, rather than simply creating public programs: Government should use the power of the market to achieve public goals. It should leverage the resources and capabilities of the private sector. It should create incentives and opportunities for social entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Benefits of Reinventing Government

The authors claim that reinventing government can bring many benefits to the public sector and society at large. Some of these benefits are:

  • Improved efficiency: By steering more than rowing, empowering communities, encouraging competition, funding outcomes, concentrating on earning, and leveraging the marketplace, government can reduce its costs, waste, and duplication. It can also increase its productivity, quality, and speed.

  • Enhanced effectiveness: By being driven by mission, meeting the needs of the customer, investing in prevention, decentralizing authority, and solving problems by leveraging the marketplace, government can improve its outcomes, impact, and relevance. It can also increase its adaptability, creativity, and responsiveness.

  • Increased accountability: By encouraging competition, funding outcomes, meeting the needs of the customer, concentrating on earning, and decentralizing authority, government can increase its transparency, responsibility, and credibility. It can also increase its trust, legitimacy, and support.

  • Greater empowerment: By empowering communities, being driven by mission, meeting the needs of the customer, investing in prevention, decentralizing authority, and solving problems by leveraging the marketplace, government can increase its participation, engagement, and empowerment of its stakeholders. It can also increase its collaboration, partnership, and co-creation.

The Challenges of Reinventing Government

However, reinventing government is not without challenges. The authors acknowledge that there are many difficulties and drawbacks of implementing their recommendations. Some of these challenges are:

  • Political resistance: Many politicians may oppose or resist reinventing government because it may threaten their power, interests, or ideology. They may also fear losing control or accountability over public resources or services.

  • Bureaucratic inertia: Many bureaucrats may resist or reject reinventing government because it may challenge their status quo, routines, or culture. They may also fear losing their jobs or benefits.

  • Cultural barriers: Many citizens may resist or distrust reinventing government because it may conflict with their values, beliefs, or expectations. They may also fear losing their rights or entitlements.

  • Technical difficulties: Many practitioners may face difficulties or risks in reinventing government because it may require new skills, knowledge, or tools. They may also face uncertainty or complexity in applying new methods or models.

The Examples of Reinventing Government

The authors provide many examples of how reinventing government has been applied in different contexts and levels. Some of these examples are:

  • Federal level: The Clinton administration launched the National Performance Review (NPR) in 1993 to reform the federal government based on the principles of reinventing government. The NPR aimed to cut red tape, empower employees, enhance customer service, and improve performance.

  • State level: The state of Minnesota implemented the Minnesota Milestones program in 1991 to set long-term goals for the state's future based on public input. The program aimed to measure progress toward these goals using indicators and benchmarks.

  • Local level: The city of Phoenix restructured its sanitation department in 1989 to introduce competition among public and private service providers. The department aimed to improve its efficiency and quality by allowing customers to choose their service provider based on price and performance.

  • School level: The school district of Edmonton in Canada decentralized its authority and budget in 1976 to give more autonomy to individual schools. The district aimed to improve its effectiveness and responsiveness by allowing schools to make their own decisions and meet their own needs.


Reinventing Government is a seminal book that offers a vision and a roadmap for transforming the public sector and making it more entrepreneurial. The book presents ten principles that can help government become more efficient, effective, accountable, and empowering. The book also provides many examples of how these principles have been applied in different contexts and levels.

If you are interested in reading the book, you can download a PDF version of it from this link. You can also watch a video of David Osborne talking about the book and its implications here. We hope that this article has given you a useful overview of the book and its main ideas. We also hope that it has inspired you to think about how you can reinvent government in your own sphere of influence.


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the book and the topic:

  • Q: When was the book published and how popular was it?

  • A: The book was published in 1992 and became a bestseller. It sold over half a million copies and was translated into 22 languages. It also influenced many public sector reforms around the world.

  • Q: Who are the authors and what are their backgrounds?

  • A: David Osborne is a public policy consultant and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. He has written several books on public sector innovation and reform. Ted Gaebler is a former city manager and a consultant on organizational change. He has served in various public positions at local, state, and federal levels.

  • Q: What are some criticisms of the book and its approach?

  • A: Some critics have argued that the book is too optimistic, simplistic, or ideological. They have questioned the validity, applicability, or desirability of some of the principles or examples. They have also pointed out some of the limitations, trade-offs, or risks of reinventing government.

  • Q: What are some updates or extensions of the book and its ideas?

  • A: The authors have written several follow-up books and articles that expand on their original concepts and address some of the challenges and changes that have occurred since then. Some of these works are Banishing Bureaucracy, The Reinventor's Fieldbook, The Price of Government, and Reinventing America's Schools.

  • Q: How can I learn more about reinventing government or get involved in it?

  • A: You can visit the websites of some of the organizations or initiatives that promote or practice reinventing government, such as the Alliance for Innovation, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, or the Government Performance Lab. You can also join some of the networks or communities that connect or support public sector innovators, such as GovLoop, Code for America, or Civic Hall.



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