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Dealing with Risk
Why the Public and the Experts Disagree on Environmental Issues
Howard Margolis
University of Chicago Press, 1997
For decades, policymakers and analysts have been frustrated by the stubborn and often dramatic disagreement between experts and the public on acceptable levels of environmental risk. Most experts, for instance, see no severe problem in dealing with nuclear waste, given the precautions and safety levels now in place. Yet public opinion vehemently rejects this view, repudiating both the experts' analysis and the evidence.

In Dealing with Risk, Howard Margolis moves beyond the usual "rival rationalities" explanation proffered by risk analysts for the rift between expert and lay opinion. He reveals the conflicts of intuition that undergird those concerns, and proposes a new approach to the psychology of persuasion and belief. Examining the role of intuition, mental habits, and cognitive frameworks in the construction of public opinion, this compelling account bridges the public policy impasse that has plagued controversial environmental issues.

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Democracy's Hidden Heroes
Fitting Policy to People and Place
David C. Campbell
Temple University Press, 2024
Democracy’s Hidden Heroes tells the story of the local public managers and nonprofit directors who work where bureaucratic hierarchies and community networks meet and often collide. These “hidden heroes” struggle to align universal rules and compliance demands with the unique circumstances facing their organizations and communities.

David Campbell recounts compelling stories of the workarounds, sidesteps, informal agreements, and grantor–grantee negotiations that help policy initiatives succeed as intended. The settings include schools, human services departments, workforce development agencies, and community-based organizations. He explains why it is difficult, though necessary, to translate locally attuned implementation dynamics into accountability metrics for distant funders.

Drawing on 2,000 interviews, Democracy’s Hidden Heroes is the culmination of decades spent talking to people who must reconcile bureaucratic and community cultures. Campbell’s grounded approach and balanced perspective bring fresh insights to the analysis of policy implementation, public management, and results accountability, while offering both cautionary advice and a hopeful prognosis.

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Disabled Rights
American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality
Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer
Georgetown University Press, 2003

"Freedom and Justice for all" is a phrase that can have a hollow ring for many members of the disability community in the United States. Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer gives us a comprehensive introduction to and overview of U.S. disability policy in all facets of society, including education, the workplace, and social integration. Disabled Rights provides an interdisciplinary approach to the history and politics of the disability rights movement and assesses the creation and implementation, successes and failures of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by federal, state and local governments.

Disabled Rights explains how people with disabilities have been treated from a social, legal, and political perspective in the United States. With an objective and straightforward approach, Switzer identifies the programs and laws that have been enacted in the past fifty years and how they have affected the lives of people with disabilities. She raises questions about Congressional intent in passing the ADA, the evolution and fragmentation of the disability rights movement, and the current status of disabled people in the U.S.

Illustrating the shift of disability issues from a medical focus to civil rights, the author clearly defines the contemporary role of persons with disabilities in American culture, and comprehensively outlines the public and private programs designed to integrate disabled persons into society. She covers the law's provisions as they apply to private organizations and businesses and concludes with the most up-to-date coverage of recent Supreme Court decisions-especially since the 2000-2002 terms-that have profoundly influenced the implementation of the ADA and other disability policies.

For activists as well as scholars, students, and practitioners in public policy and public administration, Switzer has written a compassionate, yet powerful book that demands attention from everyone interested in the battle for disability rights and equality in the United States.


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Does Family Preservation Serve a Child's Best Interests?
Howard Altstein and Ruth G. McRoy
Georgetown University Press, 2000

In this new volume, two distinguished professors of social work debate the question of whether family preservation or adoption serves the best interests of abused and neglected children.

Arguing the merits of keeping families together whenever possible, Ruth G. McRoy examines the background, theory, and effectiveness of family preservation programs. She provides practical recommendations and pays particular attention to the concerns of African American children.

Claiming that there is insufficient evidence that family preservation actually works, Howard Altstein counters that children from truly dysfunctional families should be given the chance for stable lives through adoption rather than left in limbo.


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The Dynamics of Performance Management
Constructing Information and Reform
Donald P. Moynihan
Georgetown University Press, 2008

Efficiency. Innovation. Results. Accountability. These, advocates claim, are the fruits of performance management. In recent decades government organizations have eagerly embraced the performance model—but the rush to reform has not delivered as promised.

Drawing on research from state and federal levels, Moynihan illustrates how governments have emphasized some aspects of performance management—such as building measurement systems to acquire more performance data—but have neglected wider organizational change that would facilitate the use of such information. In his analysis of why and how governments in the United States have made the move to performance systems, Moynihan identifies agency leadership, culture, and resources as keys to better implementation, goal-based learning, and improved outcomes.

How do governments use the performance information generated under performance systems? Moynihan develops a model of interactive dialogue to highlight how performance data, which promised to optimize decision making and policy change for the public's benefit, has often been used selectively to serve the interests of particular agencies and individuals, undermining attempts at interagency problem solving and reform.

A valuable resource for public administration scholars and administrators, The Dynamics of Performance Management offers fresh insight into how government organizations can better achieve their public service goals.


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