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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon… Getting Big Things Done in Government

A guide to making our government work better

The American people are frustrated with their government — dismayed by a series of high-profile failures (Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown). Yet our nation has a proud history of great achievements: victory in World War II, our national highway system, welfare reform, the moon landing.

The truth is, we need more successes like these to reclaim government's legacy of competence. In the forthcoming book If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, William Eggers and John O'Leary explain how to do it. The key? Understand — and avoid — the common pitfalls that trip up public-sector leaders during the journey from idea to results.

In the book, the authors identify potential pitfalls including:

  • The Partial Map Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout project execution
  • The Tolstoy Syndrome: Seeing only the possibilities you want to see
  • Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation
  • The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines
  • The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change

At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official and anyone interested in their country’s future; this book is for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.

For additional information about the book or to contact the authors, please e-mail

About the Book

     If We Can Put a Man on the Moon… Getting Big Things Done in Government


Additional Resources

  • U.S. Federal Government
  • U.S. State Government

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