Making government action more efficient

A recap from the Berlin Summit "Winning back the people", May 2024.


13. JUNE 2024

Making government action more efficient” was the original title of one of the sessions at the Berlin Summit. However, Bill Janeway (Cambridge University) argued, and the other panelists – Anne-Laure Delatte (Université Paris-Dauphine) and Thiemo Fetzer (Universities of Bonn/Warwick) – quickly agreed, that we should rather shift the focus of government operations from efficiency to effectiveness. This shift is crucial because innovation, inherently inefficient due to its trial-and-error nature, requires state sponsorship and public funding to flourish.

Thiemo Fetzer emphasized the necessity of robust digital infrastructure for efficient government operations, highlighting Germany’s neglect in this area. This neglect has led to a generational disconnect: younger people feel alienated due to the government’s failure to utilize contemporary digital tools, while older individuals struggle with current digital interfaces. In contrast, the United States exemplifies effective digitalization through its online tax system, which allows most Americans to file taxes online at no cost – this model could easily be replicated in other countries.

To enhance governmental effectiveness, public institutions’ architecture must be rethought – work needs to be organized collectively and data needs to be shared on a large scale. Moreover, governments need clear, visible directives that are consistently implemented. Policymakers should represent diverse backgrounds to ensure a broad spectrum of issues is addressed in parliamentary discussions.

With the population shrinking in countries such as Germany, it is crucial to get this right soon, especially when it comes to challenging issues such as intergenerational fairness. This necessitates a critical debate on public expenditure and potential reallocation of investments across various sectors to optimize societal benefits.

Re-watch the whole session here



For decades, there was a consensus that reducing the role of the state and cutting public debt would generate wealth. This contributed to a chronic underinvestment in education and public infrastructure. New research focuses on establishing when and how governments need to intervene to better contribute to long-term prosperity and to stabilize rather than aggravate economic fluctuations.