Can the U.S. Government go Moneyball?

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By Peter Orszag and Jim Nussle

In an excerpt from their new book, two former Office of Management and Budget directors ask whether or not a focus on numbers and hard evidence—not emotion—could transform American governance.
Between August 13 and September 4, 2002, the Oakland Athletics baseball team didn’t lose a single time. For twenty consecutive games—an American League record—a team of misfits and overlooked talent dominated Major League Baseball like never before. And they did so, incredibly, on a budget of just $40 million—less than a third that of the league’s richest teams.

Oakland’s success came about not in spite of their measly resources but because of them. Recognizing that his team could never compete in a system where only the wealthiest could be winners, Billy Beane, the team’s general manager, began identifying and exploiting inefficiencies in the game that other teams hadmissed. He embraced his team’s scarce resources and let statistics, not unscientific scouting reports, drive his draft picks. The rest of the league could play baseball; Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s were playing “Moneyball.”

Full Excerpt