The Niskanen Center is launching its new Project on State Capacity to confront these challenges. Much of our existing work – on immigration, social policy, regulation, criminal justice reform, and climate – already demonstrates a commitment to a vibrant and dynamic public sector as a necessary complement to a vibrant and dynamic private sector. Now, we are reinforcing that commitment by taking on five new issues that we see as critical arenas for the struggle to rebuild state capacity: (1) expanding and upgrading the federal workforce; (2) improving tax collection and closing the tax gap; (3) overhauling how the federal government acquires and uses information technology; (4) streamlining environmental review to reduce delays and cost overruns in infrastructure projects; and (5) revitalizing the country’s sclerotic public heath institutions to be better prepared for the next pandemic.
Suspicion of state power is embedded in our Constitution and our political culture; accordingly, work to produce a stronger, more capable state will never be the path of least resistance. But it’s the only path that leads where we need to go, and there is growing recognition across the political spectrum that this is the direction we need to take.