Our Broken Government
by Josh Israel — January 7, 2009
By the Numbers Forty ways in which the federal government failed to perform under the administration of George W. Bush, 2001-2008. image Download the PDF As America approaches a historic transfer of power, it is becoming ever-clearer what a daunting set of tasks awaits the new administration. When Barack Obama takes the oath of office at noon on January 20 he will inherit an economy collapsing before our eyes and a pair of ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he will also inherit a federal government whose machinery should bear an “out of order” sign.
Obama has often stated his desire to have a more efficient government — one that is open, transparent, and accountable. “We are not going to be hampered by ideology in trying to get this country back on track,” he said in December. “We want to figure out what works.”
The Center for Public Integrity’s Broken Government project makes clear what an imposing assignment that will be by cataloging what hasn’t worked. In a comprehensive assessment of systematic failures over the past eight years, the Center found more than 125 examples of government breakdown. The failures occurred in areas as diverse as education, energy, the environment, justice and security, the military and veterans’ affairs, health care, transportation, financial management, consumer and worker safety, and more. While some of the failures are, by now, depressingly familiar, many are less well-known but equally distressing.