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Brookings – A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It

In this research paper, Paul C. Light writes that the “first step in preventing future failures is to find a reasonable set of past failures that might yield lessons for repair.” To meet this goal, Light asks four key questions about past federal government failures: (1) where did government fail, (2) why did government fail, (3) who caused the failures, and (4) what can be done to fix the underlying problems? To answer the first question, Light identified and ranked 41 important past government failures (between 2001 – 2014) from a search of news stories listed in the Pew Research Center’s “News Interest Index.” 

  • Explore the interactive here.


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