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The first and most important confidence building step on the road to government by performance is a pilot project. The pilot should be something highly visible and the performance criteria should be something easily measurable that everyone can agree on. A crime bill fits this profile perfectly. I hope everyone would agree that reducing crime is a goal worth spending tax money on. Crime rates are already measured and reported, so no new mechanisms need to be put in place to measure the crime rate. All this makes the performance based federal crime bill rather easy to write. It looks something like this:
That's it. A complete crime bill. No federal mandates for community police, no federal mandates for prison construction, no midnight basketball, no death penalty for drug dealers, no federal interference with the local government's quest to reduce crime.
There is also no federal standard for the crime rates you have to meet. The performance criteria is relative to what all the other cities are doing. No city can complain they lost funds because they were held to an impossible standard, because the only standard they were held to is one a real city managed to meet.
It is also important to note that the rate at which crime is being reduced is what is measured, not the absolute crime rate itself. Some cities start off with higher crime rates than others, so it wouldn't be right to measure their crime rate after just one year, but we can measure how much they have improved.
This seems like a simple example, but it incorporates several points which will be necessary for the success of government by performance to be successful:
Hopefully you are starting to get some idea of the flavor of government by performance. This example deals specifically with crime, but the crime rate is not the only statistic which can be measured that directly impacts the quality of people's lives. Any place we can tap the creative energy of local citizens and government to solve problems by giving them a free hand and an incentive to perform well, we ought to be doing it. Anytime we can replace a detailed federal prescription with an open ended performance measure, we ought to be doing it. When this concept is stretched as far as it can go, then we will really have government by performance.