What Is Government Good At?

A Canadian Answer

By (author) Donald J. Savoie
Categories: Political Science
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Hardcover : 9780773546219, 388 pages, September 2015

A thorough examination of where government succeeds and where it fails.


Recent decades have shown the public’s support for government plummet alongside political leaders’ credibility. This downward spiral calls for an exploration of what has gone wrong. The questions, “What is government good at?” and “What is government not good at?” are critical ones—and their answers should be the basis for good public policy and public administration. Donald Savoie argues that politicians and public servants are good at generating and avoiding blame, playing to a segment of the population to win the next election, keeping ministers out of trouble, responding to demands from the prime minister and his office, and managing a complex, prime minister-centred organization.


"Savoie draws clear distinctions between what government is good at, largely those things it is uniquely placed to deliver – and a much longer list of things at which government is not good. Savoie makes a strong case that government must focus on its str

“Can we get a copy of Donald J. Savoie’s “What Is Government Good At? A Canadian Answer” onto the reading stand of every candidate for president of the United States?. .. Savoie’s book is not a prescription as much as it is a field guide to government and

"What Is Government Good At? is a major contribution to research on Canadian government and the threats to Canadian democracy and public administration. Savoie writes with skill and flair and there are excellent and interesting insights in every chapter of this book. " G. Bruce Doern, Carleton University