Philip K. Howard is a noted commentator on the effects of modern law and bureaucracy on human behavior and the workings of society. In August 2016, Howard and former Senator Bill Bradley launched simplifygov.org, which advocates specific reforms, for example, leading a coalition to cut red tape for infrastructure projects from ten years to two years.
Howard is the author of The Death of Common Sense (1995), a bestseller which chronicles how overly-detailed law has similar effects to central planning; The Collapse of the Common Good (2002), which describes how fear of litigation corrodes daily interaction; and Life Without Lawyers (2009), which proposes rebuilding reliable legal boundaries to define an open field of freedom. His latest book, The Rule of Nobody (April 2014), argues that American government is structurally paralyzed and must be rebuilt to revive human responsibility and accountability.
Howard’s speech at the 2010 TED conference was praised by TED’s current CEO, Chris Anderson, as “stunning” and something that he wished “every member of Congress, every Supreme Court justice would see.” It has been viewed over 580,000 times.
Howard has worked closely with leaders of both major political parties in the United States. He wrote the introduction to Vice President Al Gore’s Common Sense Government, and has also advised a number of governors, including Democrats Lawton Chiles of Florida and Zell Miller of Georgia and Republicans Jeb Bush of Florida, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, and Bruce Rauner in Illinois. He was also a special adviser on regulatory simplification to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Arthur Levitt.
Howard has been an active civic leader in New York City, responsible for chairing the committee that installed the “Tribute in Light” memorial for victims of the September 11 attacks. He is Chair Emeritus of the Municipal Art Society, which led the battle to save Grand Central Terminal. Among his other civic projects, Howard opposed the original tower at Columbus Circle, arguing that it would have cast a shadow across Central Park, championed new codes that would increase the signage and lights on Times Square, and built a coalition to persuade the Post Office to relinquish most of the Farley Building so that it can become a new Penn Station.