But there is little evidence that the states are more efficient administrators than Washington is, and some evidence that they might be less so. “The basic argument for state efficiency is based more on hopes and prayers than on clear evidence, across the board,” said Don Kettl, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. Delegating programs to the states would likely result in greater disparities in what programs offer and slimmer budgets overall, more than any radical improvements in efficiency.
As a general point, Kettl and other political scientists agree, despite its reputation for bureaucracy and incompetence, the federal government runs pretty well, and where it runs poorly it tends to be stifled by outdated rules and regulations. “The underlying argument is that the federal government is unwieldy and inefficient,” said Kettl. “That’s not true.”
Take the Social Security Administration, as slender and effective a bureaucracy as exists on earth. The organization makes monthly payments t