Richard Clay Wilson Jr. served in local government for 38 years, including 29 years as city manager of Santa Cruz, Calif., retiring in 2010 to write about management in the public sector. He is the author of Rethinking Public Administration: the Case for Management, a revised edition of which was published in January 2016, and The Loma Prieta Earthquake: What One City Learned, published in 1991.

Before becoming assistant city manager in Santa Cruz in 1979 and then city manager in 1981, Wilson served as finance director and assistant city manager in El Cerrito, Calif. He received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his master's degree in public administration from the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

November 28, 2018

The Silly Longing for Small and Simple Government

Our modern-day well-being is built on both private- and public-sector institutions. We need them to be cost-effective, not inexpensive.
August 13, 2018

When Things Go Wrong in the Government Workplace

Whether it's employee misbehavior or supervisory abuse that's reported, one thing is for certain: It's worse than it looks.
May 2, 2018

The Indispensable-Manager Syndrome

If a bureaucracy can't function when the boss is gone, something is wrong.
January 24, 2018

Rules, Rigidity and Reasonableness

Giving public employees the power to make prudent interpretations would render government more effective and better regarded.
October 4, 2017

Government’s Underappreciated Indispensability

Particularly when it comes to spending, there's nothing like a natural disaster to demonstrate the interdependence of the public and private sectors.
June 6, 2017

Public Administration and the Limits of Loyalty

Politicians sometimes demand it, but it has nothing to do with ability. It doesn't serve them or the governments they run.
April 5, 2017

When Politicians Face an Angry Public

Some members of Congress are having rough experiences at town hall meetings. For local officials, it's all in a day's work.
December 20, 2016

When Professionalism and Political Ideology Collide

There are no easy answers for a career public manager ordered to cut spending with no consideration of its impact.
September 20, 2016

The Best Way to Reform Our Criminal Justice System? Shrink It.

We ask it to deal with a lot of problems for which it is ill-equipped. We need to narrow its focus and scale up other institutions.
September 7, 2016

The Tricky Question of Job Security for Public Employees

It's not a simple issue, but there are some guiding principles to keep in mind.
May 17, 2016

The Political Lure of Spending Less in the Present

We know that we could save a lot of money in the future by spending a little now. But we hardly ever do it.
April 12, 2016

The Myth That More Rules and Oversight Can Fix Government

The real problem is this: Public management doesn't have the kind of authority that's taken for granted in the private sector.
February 5, 2016

Who Is Really to Blame for Flint?

It's easy to point to politics. But the poisoning of the city's water reflects a failure of essential institutions of government.
January 4, 2016

Our ‘Policy’ Fantasy

It's in the political arena where things happen in government -- for better or worse -- and where they always will.
May 7, 2015

The Culture of Management That Police Departments Need

When officers are promoted to management, they need a new mindset. As Ferguson and Baltimore demonstrate, they're not getting it.
February 16, 2015

The Taboo Subject of Effectiveness in Government

We need to overcome our disinclination to honestly examine the performance of our public-sector institutions.
January 12, 2015

Why Professional Government Doesn’t Stand a Chance

We say we want professional management in the public sector, but it's in the interest of neither politicians nor public employees.
December 8, 2014

How Government Fails

The Affordable Care Act and Ferguson have some troubling things in common.