How to Bust Bureaucracy in San Jose

Problem statement

The main challenge that appears to plague the city council of San Jose is the identification of ways and means through which to reduce an eight-year successive budget shortfall, while still being in a position to deliver services to a rising number of residents. The transition from a traditional to a transformed government is yet another challenge that faces the city, coupled with an erroneous process of budgeting, waning employee performance, and poor maintenance of the infrastructure.

The city council of San Jose has to grapple with an increasing number of residents to which it must deliver services. Seeing that the solution to this problem calls for balancing and reconciliation of a lot of values, some of which could be conflicting, the resolution is not therefore quite clear-cut. The “Beyond Budget Cuts” initiative is therefore an attempt at identifying areas in which the city of San Jose could boost its efficiency, effectiveness, capacity for innovation and adaptability, to identify the means of enhancing the organizational capacity of the city, in a bid to respond to the service-delivery priorities and policy of the council, along with the on-going resource restraint.

Another challenge that the city of San Jose is faced with is that of transformation from a traditionally bureaucratic city council, into a modern and transformed government. In line with this, the current traditional bureaucratic system is dogged with an erroneous budget process, which gets complicated by the more than 112 city funds in place, and the challenge is thus how to improve this process and document them. Moreover, the traditional bureaucratic process is also both erroneous and time-consuming, thereby making is to either understand or even implement.

Like a majority of other bureaucratic systems of budget, the city council of San Jose still relies on a policy of “spend-it-or-lose it’. Due to this kind of incentive, funds that are not always utilized by the close of a financial year get returned to a general fund, so that these could in turn be allocated to the entire city. As a result, the individual departments have little, if any, incentive to take up entrepreneurial approaches that would help them generate new revenues, as whatever they generate ends up with the general fund for reallocation. Furthermore, the budget rules currently in existence make it hard for the movement of money within an agency, as the needs arise.

The bureaucratic system also does little to continuously eliminate low-level programs.

About the performance of employees, the city council appears hamstrung by the system of its civil service; in as far as the issue of handling employees’ matters goes. A previous employees’ survey indicated that only about 29 percent thought that the city council recognized and rewarded their efforts adequately.

Furthermore, there exists within the city council an uneven customer service system, and which lacks in terms of customer orientation training. On the other hand, the infrastructure maintenance initiative by the city council of San Jose is quite pathetic, with a lot of the buildings having been let to become so dilapidated as to warrant serious repairs, and others calling for a rebuilding.


Research methodology has been defined as “the application of science-based procedures to acquire solutions to some research questions (Adams & Schvaneveldt, 1991). A research methodology supplies the necessary tools to aid in the carrying out of research, whose foal is to obtain the needed information.

A research methodology entails the whole conceptualization process, an observation of the problems that need to be studied, research questions formulation, the collection of data, data analysis, and the eventual generation of the research findings. Nevertheless, several authors have come up with alternative methods of research (Yan et al., 2007; Ghauri et al., 2002; Yin, 1994).

This research methodology shall be geared towards the collection of data and the analysis of the same, as regards the busting of bureaucracy by the city council of San Jose. In this regard, a questionnaire specifically designed to accommodate open-ended questions is viewed as the best tool to use in the data collection process. The methodology utilized in conducting the research is shown below.

Research design

According to Creswell (2008), a research design is a framework for collecting and utilizing sets of data that aims to produce logical and appropriate findings with great accuracy, and that aims to adequately and reasonably rest a research hypothesis, especially in a case whereby a quantitative study is being undertaken. This study shall utilize a descriptive research approach to accurately describe the variables that were under examination, and determine the degree through which the variables could be related.


A random sampling of the employees of the San Jose city council shall be done, facilitate the acquiring of the necessary research findings.

Data Collection and instrumentation

Both the qualitative and quantitative methods of research design shall be utilized, with the aid of a developed questionnaire as an instrument for facilitating the collection of the necessary data to facilitate the study at hand. The questionnaire in mind shall be a semi-structured one.

Data editing

Once the questionnaires have been filled out by the respondents and collected, these shall then be cleaned and edited by the researcher, to ensure that the data received was of very high quality. This is a general prerequisite for any research undertaking.

Data analysis

Once data is collected, it will then be analyzed using various statistical packages namely SPSS and Excel to generate frequencies and percentages needed to answer the research objectives. According to Creswell (2008), data analysis is the technique of gathering, transforming, and modeling data to suggest conclusions, highlight useful information, and supporting decision-making. Data analysis has manifold approaches and facets, encompassing varied techniques under a variety of names in different social science, science, and business domains.

Literature review

The author of this book starts by asserting that governments ought to have a grip on the problem that confronts them. By using the state governor of Washington as a case in point, the authors argue that there is a need for governments to set their priorities right. Regarding the portion of the book on smarter budgeting, the authors call for a distinction between short-term and long-term problems that affect government budgets.

The authors specifically argue that about the basics of a budget, more focus should be on revenues, starting balance, deficit, expenses, and ending budget. The chapter on the setting of government price argues that there is nothing like ‘a right price’, but rather, an ‘acceptable price’.

The authors continue to argue that there has been a great variation in the government price, about personal income and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, the book asserts that the government price (what the authors refer to as effort) is the portion of personal income that constitutes the revenues of the government. In the chapter on establishing government priorities, the authors have highlighted peculiar problems with conventional budgeting.

Some of these include a lack of volunteers to undergo budget cuts, and that attention hinges more on programs and not results. This book reveals that for governments to effectively budget for desirable results, they first require to identify their priories, determine the value of individual outcomes, and then choose the most appropriate way to deliver each of the identified priority outcomes within limits of the established cost.

The book also talks of a need for government to “divest to invest’, and also for consolidation, rightsizing, and not merely downsizing, and elimination of mistrust in the organization. Moreover, the authors have addressed the issue of awarding customers smarter services, and the need for smarter management.

This means that the government has to work ‘on the inside’ to enhance its outside performance. Furthermore, the book talks of governments being flexible to acquire accountability and also forging alliances with system administrators. This book is relevant to the study at hand as it talks about government revenues and budgeting, and these are issues that are mired by controversy and bureaucracy in many governments.

The article is in the form of a memo to the bureaucracy-busting team of a council. In it, the author responds to questions put forward by the council management regarding the discrepancies that exist between various council departments and the budget office. For example, the author talks of how the budget office may sometimes restrict and even recall money allocated to various council departments, meaning that they have no full autonomy over such monies.

Additionally, the budget office could at times also renounce departmental savings, do away with certain positions in the department and execute a selective hiring process that could at times involve total freezing of such positions. Additionally, the author talks of stringent communication policies among departments, and the high-handedness of the employees’ relations office toward this end.

Moreover, this article addresses the issue of some wasteful processes and rules that councils often cling to for prolonged periods, thanks to bureaucracy. This article helps to highlight possible gaps that are left by bureaucratic systems and the harm that this could mean for such governments. It is thus relevant to this study, as it reveals the deficiencies of bureaucracies in institutions, thus laying a framework for the establishment of policies to banish bureaucracy.

The authors of this book have dwelt to a great depth on the characteristics portrayed by those governments that have assumed an entrepreneurial approach towards administration, what they do as well as how they act. Furthermore, the book offers strategies which if properly utilized, would facilitate the transformation of bureaucratic institutions into entrepreneurial-oriented ones.

Some examples of reinvention principles that could be utilized by governments have also been addressed by this book, such as the one of ‘the customer-driven government’. The book has explained 10 principles that if implemented by governments, authorities, and organizations, shall facilitate the banishing of bureaucracy in such organizations.

To start with, the book explains that a catalytic government ensures that its regulatory and policy functions are separated from the compliance and service delivery roles. The other principle deals with a government that is community-oriented, meaning that a government ought to empower people, as opposed to serving them.

On the other hand, a competitive government ensures that competition in the delivery of services is augmented to match the needs of the market and to facilitate cost-effectiveness.

At the same time, the authors argue that governments that are mission-driven changes organizations that are driven by procedures and rules into units that cherish the mandates and missions of their people and also have limited handicaps that would impede their accomplishment.

Another principle discussed by this book is that of customer-driven administrations, which are geared towards fulfilling customers’ needs, as opposed to hinging on bureaucracy. Enterprising governments have been portrayed as those that are more concerned with earning, and not mere spending., while the anticipatory ones seek prevention, not just waiting for a cure.

On the other hand, a government that is decentralized exhibits teamwork and participation, a break from the conventional hierarchy characteristic of bureaucratic governments. Finally, this book opines that governments that are market-oriented use market mechanisms in a bid to leverage change. Against this backdrop, the book authors have shifted focus to bureaucracies that are seen in virtually all the departments of governments.

To this end, the book has managed to pinpoint valuable strategies that could be utilized to surmount the prevailing unwillingness and inertia in such entities. The authors have summarized five ‘levers of change’ that ought to be acted on if at all such departments of governments are to become more effective. Furthermore, implementation tools for these ‘levers of change’ have also be identified by the authors, such as the reviews of programs and performance

This book is vital in the establishment of a research framework for this study, seeing that it has identified problems that characterize bureaucratic organizations, and made recommendations for overcoming these. The problems identified in the books have similarities with those being faced by the San Jose City council, and so the book is significant in this study.

According to this article, the principal role of any state government is not so much the provision of job opportunities to its citizens, but rather the provision of services to them out of the money they have paid in the form of taxes. The article features the case of the Oregon state government, which is in 2006, was believed to have squandered 39 cents per dollar that are used.

Additionally, the article provides that just about 12 percent of the residents of New York City have faith in their local government for the provision of services. The most pressing issues for urban citizens in New York, according to this article, is the amount of money the state government receives in form of taxes, and also how this kind of money gets spent.

Moreover, the article has also articulated three commonly held myths as regards the implementation of reforms into the public sector; liberal, conservative, and employee myths. Furthermore, this article has provided tools that would ensure that governments can banish bureaucracy, such as the need for accountability, and result-oriented performance.

This article is important about this research since it illustrates the perceptions of citizens regarding revenues collection, its use, and service delivery. These are issues that one could relate to the San Jose city council.

This manuscript offers the first autonomous appraisal of the plan to “reinventing government” championed by the Clinton administration. The author contemplates the areas where the reinvention machine requires adjusting and oiling. The book has assembled an illustrious group of experts in public management for an evaluation of the theory and practice of government reinvention.

In probing the movement’s dynamic thoughts, interaction with the employees of the government, and associations with the larger political society, these authorities assess the previous governmental modification association within a generation.

Since this book addresses the issue of reinventing government, and which relates quite well with busting bureaucracy, it thus befits this research study by facilitating the identification of the bureaucratic processes that either requires a modification, or a total overhaul.

This book is especially meant for individuals working in bureaucratic organizations. The author intends to have this boo distributed amongst managers in such organizations to facilitate the establishment of dialog amongst the employees, commitment building, as well as the facilitation of decisions towards the enactment of changes in the organization.

Furthermore, the book has also been designed to augment the management decisions making processes in the bureaucratic organizations, to enable them to comprehend possible changes that could be arrived at by the managing team. This book aims to enable managers to come to terms with the bureaucratic organizations under which they operate.

In addition, the author has observed that many employees heaps blame on managers for the bureaucratic nature of their organization, further adding that a majority of the senior managers in such organizations are not so popular with bureaucracy. Besides, the book has identified the model of an organization as the basis of bureaucracy.

What’s more, the author has proposed the ‘mission-driven model ‘as a recipe for new enterprises to avoid bureaucracy. An alteration of some fundamental philosophy of the organization structure is yet another remedy. This book appeals to the research study at hand since it reflects the views of both the employees and the managers in bureaucratic organizations and offers possible solutions to the problem.

This article talks about the necessary steps that would be undertaken to ensure that strategies for the busting of bureaucracy are implemented. To start with, the article provides the need for identification of the desirable results. The article further asserts that these should be employee-driven, CIT-driven, and department-driven.

The report further advocates for a need to transform a bureaucratic process in terms of dollars and hours spent on such services as fixing pavements, and business licenses, as well as the regeneration of employees, among others. In other words, this article demands efficiency and effectiveness be applied in these areas.

Furthermore, the article also layout a proposed process for busting bureaucracy that affects each item highlighted, as well as a page-long summary of data, problem, and risk. Items that have been highlighted by this article for busting include those processes which lead to no added value, unnecessary approvals, unwanted results, council memos, travel policy, grants, salary increments, and small contracts.

To achieve the busting process off these highlighted items, the article suggests that council employees need to be involved in the process. At the same time, the government is called upon to paint, literally, the picture of desirable changes and communicate these to the employees, and establish a transformation group around each of the areas to transform. In addition, the article recommends that each council department form its processes of busting bureaucracy.

Holding citywide forums is yet another implementation process that the report recommends.

These articles appeal to the study at hand, in that it identifies problems in city councils, and at the same time offers possible solutions that would enable the management to bust bureaucracies that often plagues the individual departments that make up such city councils.

This study reveals that the main thing for a majority of governments is having a vision. In particular, the article has highlighted the important roles played by stakeholders, customers, and employees in the daily operations of an organization, and how these reflect on the success of such organizations, and hence the need for incorporating them into an organization to ensure the attainment of success.

The study underscores a need to establish sets of measures in organizations that are result-driven, and which seek to balance customers, organization, and employees. Further, the publication calls for these organizations to establish accountability at the various levels of an organization, further advising on a need to share the functions of leadership in an organization, as this is a vital component that contributes to the accomplishment of organizations.

Moreover, this study has also highlighted the lessons that its researchers have learned lessons, such as adopting instead of adopting, cascading leadership for private and public organizations alike, and listening to stakeholders, customers, and employees, instead of controlling them. Thus, the study offers useful tips that would help in a successful banishing of bureaucracy in an organization, and this could prove to be the much-needed antidote for the San Jose city council, and which this study seeks to analyze.

Strategies the City of San Jose is undertaking to bust bureaucracy, beyond Budget cuts and reinvent government

The city of San Jose has sought to implement a budgeting framework that is focused on the implementation of priorities, as well as a clarification of the various roles of the management of the council to overcome duplications of responsibilities, thus improving efficiency and effectiveness.

Furthermore, the city has also embarked on a campaign to empower employees through motivation. The empowerment of the organization is yet another strategy. This is made possible by the proposed approach of a ‘charter agency’, which entails a loosening up of some of the controls that give authority to various departments.

This is to enhance their results, by a departure from rules following to vision following, mission fulfilling, organization values embodiment, and also the delivery of results that they promise to their customers. Another strategy proposed by the council is improved value, support, and internal services that are customer-focused.

To achieve this, the council has proposed a restructuring of these to resemble enterprise funds. Moreover, the council is keen on changing its risk-averse culture, to embrace a rapid response to early resistance and innovations. By leveraging on information technology, the San Jose council seeks to shed light on the organizational elements that require being decentralized, and those that need internal control.

Performance management by making use of scorecards for the entire organization is another strategy. Finally, the council seeks to enhance customer strategy, redressing of council policies, and also the development of standards for its customer service department.

Another strategic approach that the city of San Jose has embarked on is the application of the ‘five C’s’. The first ‘core strategy’ entails the establishment of ‘clarity of purpose’. In addition, the strategy of consequence involves an establishment of outcomes for various performances, while the strategy on customers seeks to place the customer first.

On the other hand, the control strategy entails the decentralization of organizational control structure, a departure from the centralized model. Finally, the cultural strategy hopes to establish a continuously progressing culture.


Chrisinger, J. (2006). Beyond bureaucracy: tools for transforming government. Washington, Iowa department of management. 2008. Web.

Creswell, J.W 2008. Educational Research: Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. (3rded). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Ghauri, P. N. & Gronhaug, K (2002). Research methods in business studies: a practical guide (2nd Ed). London: Prentice-Hall.

Himmel, N, Allen, K, Danaj, M, Shotwell, B, Ortbal, J, Beaudry, E, Romanow, K, Krutko, L & Gurza, A. (2008). Busting bureaucracy: beyond budget cuts retreat. Small group reports out.

Johnson, K, B. (1993). Busting bureaucracy: how to conquer your organization’s worst enemy. New York: Visionary Publication Inc.

Kettl, D. F. Inside the reinvention machine: appraising governmental reform. Washington, D.C.: Brookings INS Institution; 1995.

NPRG (1999). Balancing measures: best practices in performance management.

National Partnership for Reinventing Government, 1999. Web.

Osborne, D &, Plastrik, P. (1997). Banishing bureaucracy: the five strategies for reinventing government. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

Osborne, B &, Hutchinson, B. (2004). The Price of Government: getting the results we need in an age of permanent fiscal crisis. New York: Basic Books.

Osborne, D. (2008). Budget system.

Yang, K & Miller, G. J. (2007). Handbook of research methods in public administration. New Jersey: CRC Press.

Yin, R.K. (1994). Case study research: design and methods (2nd Ed). New York: Sage.