Government

BOOK REVIEWS: "Many Unhappy Returns: One Man's Quest to Turn Around the Most Unpopular Organization in America"

April 24, 2006

On the face of it, reading a book on the IRS may seem as appealing as a visitation of the gout. One might view this read as a civic duty-we all owe it to ourselves to learn ways to reform this cumbersome but essential bureaucracy.

Rossotti, the IRS commissioner from 1997 to 2002, describes himself as the "first businessman to lead the Internal Revenue Service." He took over amid accusations of mistreatment of taxpayers, management failures, and growing public anger.

According to Rossotti, his notion to run the service on "good, sound business principles" led to: 1) an overhaul of the computer system, 2) improved customer service, 3) increased employee job satisfaction, and 4) increased fairness of compliance.

Did he succeed in the minds of taxpayers? The IRS approval rating during his tenure rose from 32 percent to 49 percent, so by that measure, perhaps.

Ultimately though, this book is useful for anyone looking for techniques to creatively reform entrenched bureaucracy at all levels of government, or in any large corporation.

My favorite quote from the book arose when Rossotti was arguing with congressmen to simplify the code: "If you already have an 83,000-page manual, will more rules solve your problems?"

Harvard Business School Press, 1941,

$26.95

"Indiana Employer's Guide to

Wage and Hour Issues"

Ice Miller Legal

and Business Advisors.

Ice Miller, Indiana's largest law firm, has teamed up with the Indiana Chamber to clearly and concisely lay out the e m p l oy m e n t issues that face Indiana firms. Virtually every aspect of employment law as it relates to Indiana is covered including the calculation of overtime, defining independent contractors, record-keeping requirements, equal pay issues, garnishment of wages, bonuses, exempt status, meal periods and on-call status.

This handy guide will save endless hassles in complying with Indiana and federal wage and hour laws. Call the Indiana Chamber to purchase a copy at 264-6885.

Indiana Chamber, $85


Reviewer Matt Hannigan is with Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library. The book review appears monthly.
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