Using Technology to Reinvent Government | NYTimes

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The big economic question in much of the world today is usually framed as the fight between advocates of austerity and advocates of growth. But another way to view the debate is as a contest between those who think that 21st-century government can be effective and those who don’t.

The debate is also ideological. The right has long been campaigning to reduce the power of the state and to increase the power of the individual.

But there is also a special resonance to arguments about the relative efficacy of the private sector over the state when you hear them in the 21st-century United States from a West Coast technology entrepreneur. After all, whatever your political allegiances, it is hard to disagree that in recent decades when it comes to transforming the world, the Valley has outdone the Beltway.

One reason for that gap may be that while our private and business lives have been transformed by the technology revolution, government largely has not.

One response to that gap is that of Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Conard, namely to give up on the state. Mr. Nilekani advocates something different. What we need to do, he argues, is reinvent government, just as the technology revolution has forced most businesses to reinvent themselves.

That’s an important paradigm shift — instead of arguing over whether to shrink the state or expand it, or whether money is better spent by the private sector or by the state, maybe we should be focusing more on reinventing the state for the 21st century.

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