“Light finds the following patterns and characteristics in the dataset of significant government failures:
1.Most of the failures involved errors of omission, not commission.
2.Some failures were obviously more visible than others.
3.Vision with execution is the clear driver of success, just as its absence is an equation for failure.
4.Some of the stories contained elements of both success and failure.
5.The number of government failures has increased over time
6.There are differences between the five presidents in office during the failures. Government had four failures during Reagan’s final two-and-a-half years (1.6 per year), five during George H. W. Bush’s four years (1.2 per year), 14 during Clinton’s eight years (1.8 per year), 25 during George W. Bush’s eight years (3.1 per year), and 16 during Obama’s first five-and-a-half years (2.9 per year).
7.The differences are just large enough to suggest that government may be somewhat more likely to fail during the last few years of a two-term presidency, perhaps because presidents start to lose focus, appointees begin to turn over, the other party becomes more assertive, and the media becomes more aggressive.
8.Government had just 10 failures during the Bush administration’s first term (2.5 per year), but 15 failures during the administration’s second (3.8 per year). In turn, government had just eight failures during the Obama administration’s first term (2.0 per year), but matched its entire first-term total in just eighteen months of the second (5.3 per year).
9.These failures involved both oversight and operations.
10.More of the post-2001 government failures occurred during steady demand (27) than during surging demand (14), perhaps confirming the unconventional notion that surges sharpen organizational acuity.”