Simpler: The Future of Government

Cass Sunstein | 2014

Governments everywhere are undergoing a quiet and profound revolution: they’re getting simpler, more cost-effective, and focused on improved outcomes not politics. For four years one of the leading lights of that revolution, Cass Sunstein, as President Obama’s “Regulatory Czar,” oversaw the brilliant and successful effort to give every American better government. In “a remarkably fun, engaging read” (, he explains how, why, and what should come next in Simpler: The Future of Government.

For Americans, the future of government arrived in 2009. The government became simpler. It became smarter. It worked better. Cass Sunstein, America’s “regulatory czar” under President Barack Obama, was at the centre of it all. Drawing on state-of-the-art work in behavioural psychology and economics, Sunstein helped save the country more than $91 billion and an unknown number of lives.

Interview with Cas R. Sunstein about ‘Simple’

This was accomplished through the extraordinary power of nudges—seemingly modest policies that preserve freedom of choice, better lives, and fundamentally improve government. In combination with cost-benefit analysis, nudges are already saving money, saving lives, and improving, by simplifying, government. In Simpler, Sunstein speaks for the first time about what he encountered and accomplished in the Obama Administration and the lessons for everyone going forward.

“In the United States, both plates and portions have increased dramatically over time. A really good nudge would be to make them smaller.”

– Cass R. Sunstein

We don’t need big or small government; we need better government. Simpler is a “lucid, engaging treatment of behavioural economics that sees a role for the state in nudging humans towards rationality and responsibility. The result is a forthright, compelling vision of technocratic government that’s both efficient and humane” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). And it just may be “the most important book to come out of President Obama’s first term” (Walter Isaacson).


Sunstein, C. (2014) Simpler: The future of government. New York: Simon & Schuster.

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest