Paul L. Posner  |  Contributor

Paul L. Posner, who died July 5, 2017, was director of the public-administration program at George Mason University. He also was a former president of the American Society for Public Administration.

Posner served for many years with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where he was managing director for federal budget and intergovernmental relations, leading GAO's work on the long-term federal budget outlook and emerging challenges for public-sector finances at all levels of government.

Posner was the author of "The Politics of Unfunded Mandates,", published in 1998, and was the winner of the 2008 Martha Derthick Best Book Award given by the Section on Federalism and Intergovernmental Management of the American Political Science Association. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.

Paul Posner
September 9, 2015

Why We Need to Grade Our Governments (Again)

An exceptional project from the past illustrates how beneficial measuring public-sector performance can be.
March 4, 2015

Government’s Management Failures to Come

They're inevitable for a host of reasons, and the blame will fall on top elected officials. Can they fix problems before they become full-blown crises?
November 12, 2014

European-Style Federalism’s Lessons for America

An emerging system of "variable speed federalism" is allowing federal policy to adapt to the states' political and policy diversity. But at what cost?
August 13, 2014

The Debate We’re Not Having over Fiscal Disparities

Our state and local governments vary greatly in their capacity to address urgent public needs. Shouldn't we be talking about this issue?
February 4, 2014

The Future of Federalism in a Polarized Country

The states' widening ideological gulfs have begun to spill over into the implementation of federal programs. Are we headed for an age of 'variable-speed' federalism?
October 23, 2013

The Bleak Outlook for Our Intergovernmental Fiscal Future

We need a forum for our state, local and federal governments to collaborate on the fiscal challenges they all face. But in today's fiscal climate, it's hard to see that happening.
July 31, 2013

The Flexibility We Need to Budget for the Unknowable

Analysis of long-term government commitments such as pensions is important, but overly rigid funding rules are a formula for intergenerational conflict.
May 8, 2013

Can Performance Help in Reducing Deficits?

Making spending decisions based on evidence and analysis can be hardest to do in times of austerity, but that's precisely when these tools are most useful.
February 20, 2013

The Political Reality of the Stimulus

Given the decentralization of our modern governmental system, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the nation isn't showering President Obama with the gratitude it felt for FDR.
December 5, 2012

The Folly of Praying for a Crisis

The fiscal and environmental disasters that we know are going to happen need to be dealt with now.
September 19, 2012

The Daunting Challenge of Following the Federal Money

As funding from Washington makes its way to the service-delivery level, it follows a complex path. We need a better understanding of where it goes and how it's used.
July 18, 2012

The Supreme Court and the Remaking of Federalism

In its health-care ruling, the court limited Washington’s coercive powers over the states in ways that could have profound consequences — and perhaps unintended ones.
May 2, 2012

When Is a Federal Mandate Coercion?

The Supreme Court’s consideration of the health law highlights the need for a new look at the boundaries of our federal system.
April 4, 2012

The Political Ironies of the Health-Reform Case

A Supreme Court ruling that strikes down the health-reform mandates would have a profound impact on our federal system — one that ultimately might backfire on the law’s opponents.
February 22, 2012

What the Federal Budget Doesn’t Tell Us

As usual, the White House’s spending plan is getting all the attention. What we should be looking at is how we spend across the public sector.
November 30, 2011

Should Washington Budget Like the States?

Balanced-budget mandates and biennial budgeting are popular ideas for fixing the federal budgeting process. But what works in state capitols isn’t the right approach for Capitol Hill.
September 21, 2011

The Continuing Conflict over Standards

Business has had a lot of success setting voluntary standards that prevent regulation from Washington. States are having a harder time finding the cohesion to do the same.
July 13, 2011

Volunteering for Fiscal Sacrifice

Federal deficit reduction in the trillions is on the way. Rather than being served up for dinner, it would be far better if state and local governments were helping the feds prepare the meal.
May 10, 2011

Can't We All Get Along? Collaboration in Crisis

When all governments in our federal system suffer from common maladies, joint solutions are preferable.
February 16, 2011

State Resistance

What are the forces behind the contentious current fight to redefine federalism?
November 17, 2010

Negotiating Federal Aid Post-Recovery Act

It is not a question of whether the federal government will become more demanding and less generous, but when and how.
October 20, 2010

Government Remains Unpopular

Even as the American public demands more, it remains ambivalent about government. The only 'solution' is enlightened leadership.
October 20, 2010

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

The public turns to government to solve all manner of private troubles, yet is perennially disenchanted with government.
August 4, 2010

Wanted: A State and Local Voice

One could argue that state and local governments are the proverbial canary in the coal mine, the first to deal with a flood of fiscal sacrifices that eventually wash across the beltway.
August 4, 2010

The Missing Commissioners

State and local government officials should also sit on the president's new deficit reduction commission.

The Deficit Inferno

For governments facing fiscal gaps, these five stages outline an official's journey to acceptance and finally, action.
June 9, 2010

The 5 Stages Before Deficit Reduction

For governments facing fiscal gaps, these stages outline one's journey to action.

Braving Twin Deficits

State and local leaders face a severe challenge in dealing with the short-term recession while at the same time planning for future fiscal burdens.

State Laboratories and National Policy Reforms

More often than not, the federal government punishes rather than rewards states for innovative solutions to national problems.

The Next Federal Grant System

The stimulus law's transparency requirements won't shed much light on the achievement of objectives.

The Stimulus Next Time

The assistance from Washington is full of compromises that undercut its effectiveness. There is a better way.

The Stimulus Hot Seat

As the money flows from Washington, state and local government managers need to be proactive about accountability.

The Crisis Next Time

We pay a high price when we depend upon a crisis to catalyze action to solve major problems.

Seductive Reforms

Why management initiatives need to be saved from their own excessive promises.

Can't Ideology and Policy Expertise Just Get Along?

Policymakers are more polarized and driven by ideology than ever before, writes Paul L. Posner.

The Agenda Explosion and Public Management

Leaders at all levels of government should think twice before assuming government can solve a particular problem, writes Paul L. Posner.

Coming to Grips with Fiscal Realities

Financial pressures demand transformation but transformative government demands broad authority -- something federal policies make difficult.

Legislatures and Good Management: an Oxymoron Revisited

Management reforms often seem to flounder on the shoals of legislative indifference and hostility.

You Say You Want a Revolution

State and local leaders are realizing how reliant they are on other sectors to meet public goals and expectations. This column discusses the implications of that reality for public managers.

The Silent Revolution

Governing through a diverse array of third parties can provide important advantages to public managers at all levels. It also poses daunting management and accountability challenges.

Taking Stock of Public Programs and Priorities

Political leaders have ample incentives to propose new ideas, but do they have equal incentives to revisit and review existing claims and programs?

New Intergovernmental Forums Needed to Address 21st-Century Challenges

In spite of the importance of intergovernmental collaboration, at present an effective, institutional framework does not exist to promote the necessary dialogue and partnerships across governments.

A Politics of Foresight?

A quick scan at the policy agenda facing federal and state officials shows a number of problems that threaten to balloon in future decades. For each of these problems, policy changes are inevitable -- the question is not whether, but when and how.