A May survey of 2,523 adults conducted by Hart Research Associates found that public lack of confidence in government’s ability to solve problems is more closely related to perceptions of government performance than it is a function of partisan affiliation or political ideology. A majority of respondents indicated they would be more likely to support political candidates who embrace a reform agenda of improving government performance, effectiveness, and efficiency.
While recession-fueled record low levels of confidence are sobering, the broader lesson for policymakers is that a better-run government will increase public confidence in public institutions. That, in turn, should expand public support for smart government solutions to pressing social problems. Specifically, the survey found substantial support, especially among the younger generation and minorities but also among independents, moderates, and unlikely constituencies like Republicans and Tea Party supporters, for a government reform plan organized around three core elements:
- Eliminating inefficient programs and redirecting support to the most cost-efficient programs
- Carefully evaluating the performance of individual programs and agencies, and making that information available to the public
- Using more modern management methods and information technologies
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