The NYTimes has a front page story on the failure of the Obama administration to get support for its ill-conceived changes to payment limitation. It shows the problems in hitting the ground running for a new administration. To the city slickers, even including OMB director Orzag, it sounded good. But I'm sure they didn't check with the remaining division directors and branch chiefs in FSA for a reality check. And apparently, John Berge, who's supposed to be the White House liaison to USDA and a former FSA state director, wasn't consulted. I doubt the White House checked with any of the "reformers" in agriculture, those who want to reduce payments. If they did, I'm not confident people like EWG would have spotted the problem. That's why you need bureaucrats, to give a reasonably objective appraisal of the pluses and minuses of a policy proposal.
The problem is that reputation is almost all you have in DC--if you're known as someone who knows her business and keeps her promises, you have clout. Screw up, and that becomes your reputation and your clout dwindles.