Bipartisan Campaign To Reboot Government

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A Bipartisan Initiative To Overhaul Legacy Bureaucracies

New York, NY – June 25, 2020 – Common Good announces a bipartisan initiative to overhaul legacy bureaucracies so that government can deliver results without stifling human initiative. The Campaign for Common Sense proposes a clear operating vision focused on goals, not red tape. This vision, like that of the Framers, is built upon the firm foundation of individual responsibility and clear lines of accountability.

As we have seen this year with the botched responses to COVID-19, and the inability to terminate abusive police, nothing will work sensibly until Americans at all levels of responsibility are re-empowered to do their jobs—whether public health workers in Seattle or police supervisors in Minneapolis. Daily choices throughout America are weighed down by the accretion of rules that are far beyond the capacity of human understanding or compliance—as one report showed, 5,000 rules for a family-owned apple orchard.

Political debate is stuck in a kind of trench warfare, and largely misses the main source of voter frustration and alienation. What’s needed is not to get rid of government (“de-regulation”)—but to make it work sensibly, whether dealing with pandemics, fixing decrepit infrastructure, or educating our children. What’s needed is not just new programs—but cleaning out waste, inefficiency, and obsolete programs so that taxpayers can afford new initiatives.

To stimulate debate in the 2020 election cycle, Common Good will roll out a 16-plank platform with specific proposals for overhauling bureaucracy in America’s social institutions. The first two planks, on COVID recovery and on public employee accountability, are presented today. We will solicit expert commentary and host online forums on each plank, including joint forums with the American Enterprise Institute, Progressive Policy Institute, and Competitive Enterprise Institute.

A Call For Spring Cleaning Commissions

Our launch petition calls for “spring cleaning commissions” to recommend simplified codes to replace the bureaucratic tangle that has grown over the last 50 years and now paralyzes choices throughout society. History shows that change happens in big shifts, usually with new approaches such as ending laissez-faire in the Progressive Era or embracing the rights revolution in the 1960s. The imperative for change in America today is not to abandon policy values, but to simplify codes so that officials and citizens are able to make sense of daily choices. The standard process for re-codifying laws that have grown too dense is to delegate the responsibility to an expert commission. Giving the job to an independent commission avoids political stalemate, as shown by the success of “base-closing commissions.” The commission’s proposal can then be reviewed and voted on by the legislature.

Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana and President of Purdue University, emphasizes the importance of a new governing vision: “If decades of paralyzed incompetence weren’t enough to impel real change, maybe the need to respond to today’s widespread sense of powerlessness and frustration will do so.  Neither political party has answered this call; Common Good uniquely has a new practical program for a nation that needs and deserves one as rarely before.”

Signatories To The Campaign For Common Sense Petition

The signatories to the Campaign for Common Sense petition come from all sides of the political and policy spectrum, and, though they will have different views on specific solutions, they all agree that sweeping reform is necessary and should be proposed by independent spring cleaning commissions. Among the leaders who have signed the Campaign’s petition are the following:

  • Former US Senators, Governors, and Mayors from both parties including Mitch Daniels, Bill Bradley, Alan Simpson, Kit Bond, Arne Carlson, Dave Durenberger, Wyche Fowler, Stephen Goldsmith, and Tom Kean.
  • Former college and university presidents Bill Brody (Johns Hopkins), Gerhard Casper (Stanford), David Mathews (University of Alabama), and Paul Verkuil (College of William and Mary).
  • Business leaders including John Abele (Co-founder of Boston Scientific), Linda Avey (Co-founder of 23andMe), Michael Critelli (former CEO of Pitney Bowes), James Kilts (former CEO of Gillette), Shelly Lazarus (Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather), Joe Lonsdale (Co-founder of Palantir), Al Rankin (Chair of NACCO Industries), John Tickle (Chair of Strongwell), and Josh Weston (Honorary Chairman of ADP).
  • Leading experts in different fields, including economists Glenn Hubbard, Alain Enthoven, and Bob Litan, law professors Peter Schuck, Gillian Hadfield, and David Schoenbrod, former officials Admiral Bobby Ray Inman (former NSA Director), Bob Stone (Reinventing Government administrator), and Chris DeMuth (former head of OIRA), social philosophers Jonathan Haidt and Yuval Levin, education expert Richard Arum, political scientists Robert Heineman, Bryan Jones, Don Kettl, and Paul Light, healthcare experts Jeremiah Barondess, Marshall Kapp, and Donald Palmisano, social activists Rohan Pavuluri, Lenore Skenazy, and Heather Higgins, infrastructure expert Tom Wright, and management experts Richard Foster and David Osborne.

Americans Need Protection Against Pandemics

In launching the Campaign, Philip K. Howard, Chair of Common Good, said:

“Government can’t deliver. Everyone knows it. But where’s a vision of how it could work better? What’s needed to address broad public frustration is not de-regulation—Americans want clean water and protection against pandemics. What’s needed is re-regulation—aimed at making government work sensibly, and giving everyone the chance to use common sense instead of strangling them with red tape. The current system is too dense to be tweaked—150 million words of federal law alone. It must be replaced by a simpler framework that real people can understand and take responsibility for.”

More information on the Campaign—including the petition, the initial list of signers, and the first set of platforms—is available at To speak with Philip Howard, contact Emma McKinstry at [email protected].

Common Good ( is a nonpartisan reform coalition to radically simplify government and restore the ability of officials and citizens alike to use common sense in daily decisions. The Founder and Chair of Common Good is Philip K. Howard, a lawyer and author, most recently, of Try Common Sense (W. W. Norton, 2019).

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