Editor’s Note:  The following is the final and most important recommendation from the testimony of Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The complete statement, Lessons for the Future of Government Reform, is available here.

Fifth, it is career bureaucrats who know, better than anyone else, what works and what doesn’t.  A successful reform effort cannot take place without their wisdom and without their participation.  As with any workplace the federal workplace is composed of a wide variety of character and talent.  For every civil servant who ties up citizens in red tape and doesn’t seem to work very hard, there are civil servants who work overtime making sure that our soldiers’ families get what they need or who makes less money than they could in the private sector to make sure we are funding essential medical research.  We need to reward the civil servants who produce for their fellow citizens.  In addition, the federal government consists of a whole lot of very good people caught in a whole bunch of very crazy systems.  Of course at the time each rule was created it made sense, solved a problem and worked in the public interest.  But over time the accretion of rules and regulations ends up costing us money and frustrating the public.