In his 1961 Farewell Address, President Eisenhower famously referred to the emergence of a "military-industrial complex" so powerful that it threatened to warp America's political institutions and economy. However, the military was not the only part of government that was growing by leaps and bounds. Over the next half century, the size of the federal government expanded at a breakneck pace in almost every category, and today the government as a whole is genuinely
In The Government-Industrial Complex, government-reform expert Paul Light not only traces the expansion of the federal government over the past few decades, but also explains why it has taken the shape that it has. In marked contrast to governments in other wealthy countries, America's relies heavily on private contractors over actual government employees. Drawing upon Eisenhower's description of the military-industrial complex, Light shows that the federal government now depends on
more than 9 million contract employees to faithfully execute the laws. To do this, he offers short histories of the roles of various presidents and the impacts of war on the changing size of government. He also highlights the Trump administration's early strategies on downsizing and deconstructing government.
In this landmark account of the nature and scope of national governance in the United States, Light stresses that achieving the right balance between public and private responsibilities is key in making government both more efficient and more responsive.
Paul C. Light is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York Universityas Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service as well as a nonresident senior fellow at the Volcker Alliance and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Before joining NYU, he was vice president and director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution and founding director of its Center for Public Service. He has held teaching posts at the University of Virginia, University of Minnesota, and Harvard Universityas John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was also senior adviser to the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, associate dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, director of the public policy grant program at the Pew Charitable Trusts from 1995-1998. Light has written 25 books, and is a recognized expert on government reform, legislative history, social innovation, and government by investigation.