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Abstract: This case series examines the tenure of John O. Boone as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. Boone was appointed by Gov. Francis Sargent with a mandate to reform the Massachusetts prison system. While bold in pursuing this mandate, Boone eventually became a political liability to the Sargent administration and was asked to resign. The case traces Boone's attempts at reform, his handling of personnel and administration, the development of his highly visible public persona, and his eventual fall from grace with the administration. Part I details the Sargent administration's search for a reform candidate for the vacant commissioner position. Part II reveals Boone as the candidate of choice and outlines the early events of his tenure. (Parts I and II are also available in abridged versions.) Part III documents the erosion of Boone's support and Sargent's eventual request for his resignation.
Learning Objective: These cases illustrate how public managers are dependent on both internal and external support in the pursuit of organizational objectives. The cases also underscore the importance of considering personality as well as credentials and commitment in choosing a public manager.