Future Of Public Administration Essay, Research Paper
Public Administration – what is it?
Public administration is often regarded as including also some responsibility for determining the policies and programs of governments. Specifically, it is the following:
? Controlling of government operations.
Public administration is a feature of all nations, whatever their system of government. Within nations public administration is practiced at the
? Local levels
The body of public administrators is usually called the CIVIL SERVICE.
Certain characteristics are common to all civil services.
Senior civil servants are regarded as the professional advisers to those who formulate state policy.
Senior civil servants are professional in the sense that their experience of public affairs is thought to provide them with the knowledge of the limits within which state policy can be made effective and of the probable administrative results of different courses of action.
Civil servants in every country are expected to:
? Assist those responsible for state policy
? And, when this has been decided, to provide the organization for implementing it.
The responsibility for policy decisions lies with the political members of the executive (those members who have been elected or appointed to give political direction to government and, customarily, career civil servants).
By custom, civil servants are protected from public blame or censure for their advice.
The acts of their administration may, however, be subject to special judicial controls from which no member of the executive can defend them.
Structure of civil service
Civil services are organized upon standard hierarchical lines, in which a command structure rises pyramid-fashion from the lowest offices to the highest.
This command implies obedience to the lawful orders of a superior, with well-defined duties, specific powers, and salaries and privileges objectively assessed. A recognized system of internal promotion emphasizes the nature of the hierarchical pyramid.
Early systems – historical background
Public administration has ancient origins.
The principal office holders were regarded as being principally responsible for administering:
? Maintaining law and order
? Providing plenty
Romans developed a more sophisticated system under their empire, creating distinct administrative hierarchies for:
? Military affairs
? Finance and taxation
? Foreign affairs
? Internal affairs
An elaborate administrative structure, later imitated by the Roman Catholic Church, covered the entire empire, with a hierarchy of officers reporting back through their superiors to the emperor.
Apart from justice and treasury departments, which originated in old court offices, modern ministerial structures in Europe developed out of the royal councils, which were powerful bodies of nobles appointed by the monarch. From the division of labor within these bodies the monarchs’ secretaries, initially given low status within a council, emerged as perhaps the first professional civil servants in Europe in the modern sense.
The foundations of modern public administration in Europe were laid in Prussia in the late 17th and 18th centuries.
The electors of Brandenburg (who from 1701 were the kings of Prussia) considered a rigidly centralized government a means of ensuring stability and furthering dynastic objectives.
Their principal effort was devoted in the first instance to the:
? Suppression of the autonomy of the cities
? The elimination of the feudal privileges of the aristocracy.
Civil servants were therefore appointed by the central government to administer the provinces.
The management of crown lands and the organization of the military system were combined in a “Office of War and Crown Lands”.
Subordinates to these offices were the TAX COUNCILLORS, who controlled the administration of the municipalities and communes. These officials were all appointed by the central government and were responsible to it.
Less-developed countries have had to face the opposite problem with their civil services.
Few of the colonial powers had trained indigenous administrators sufficiently.
The British left a viable administrative structure in India and a partly Indianized civil service, but the newly independent Pakistan had few experienced civil servants.
The lack of qualified personnel sometimes led to:
? Reduction in efficiency in the civil service
? Decline in administrative morality
The incapacity of the civil service was a factor leading to military rule, as were the political failings of the elected leaders.
Military regimes have frequently been the last resort of a country where the civil power has failed to cope with the problems of independence.
Consequently, the United Nations (UN), in conjunction with the governments of advanced countries, began to develop training programs for civil servants from underdeveloped countries.
The classical definition
The study and practice of public administration has been essentially pragmatic and normative rather than theoretical and value free.
A prominent principle of public administration has been:
? Economy and
? Efficiency, i.e. the provision of public services at the minimum cost.
This has usually been the stated objective of administrative reform.
Efficiency continues to be a major goal, despite growing concern about other kinds of values, such as:
? Responsiveness to public needs
? Justice and equal treatment
? Citizen involvement in government decisions
In its concern with efficiency and improvement, public administration has focused frequently on questions of formal organization.
It is generally held that administrative ills can be at least partly corrected by reorganization.
Many organizational principles originated with the military, a few from private business.
They include, for example:
? Organizing departments, ministries, and agencies on the basis of common or closely related purposes,
? Grouping like activities in single units,
? Equating responsibility with authority,
? Ensuring unity of command (only one supervisor for each group of employees),
? Limiting the number of subordinates reporting to a single supervisor,
? Differentiating line (operating or end-purpose) activities from staff (advisory, consultative, or support) activities,
? Employing the principle of management by exception (only the unusual problem or case is brought to the top), and
? Having a clear-cut chain of command downward and of responsibility upward.
Some critics have maintained that these and other principles of public administration are useful only as rough criteria for given organizational situations. They believe that organizational problems differ and that the applicability of rules to various situations also differs.
Public administration has also laid stress upon personnel. The direction has been toward:
? Meritocracy — the best individual for each job
? Competitive examinations for entry
? Selection and promotion on the basis of merit.
Attention has increasingly been given to factors like:
? Personal attitudes
? Personal relationships
? Collective bargaining
In addition, the BUDGET has developed as a principal tool in:
? Planning future programs
? Deciding priorities
? Managing current programs
? Linking executive with legislature
? Developing control and accountability
The orthodox doctrine rested on the premise that administration was simply the implementation of public policies determined by others.
According to this view, administrators should seek maximum efficiency but should be otherwise neutral about values and goals.
During the great depression & World War II, however, it became increasingly evident that:
? Many new policies originated within the administration
? Policy and value judgments were virtually contained in most significant administrative decisions.
? That many administrative officials worked on nothing except policy,
? Insofar as public policies were controversial, such work inevitably involved administrators in politics.
? The supposed independence of administration from policy and politics was seen to be illusory.
Since the 1930s there has thus been increasing concern with policy formation and the development of techniques to improve policy decisions.
It was with governmental efforts to combat the Depression that new informational devices were introduced, including:
? National income accounting
? The scrutiny of gross national product as a major index of economic health.
The applied techniques of fiscal and monetary policy have become established specialization of public administration
Responses to incrementalism
Incrementalism is the tendency of government to tinker with policies rather than to question the value of continuing them.
A number of techniques have been introduced to make decisions more rational.
One such technique, widely applied, is cost-benefit analysis. This involves:
? Comparing the costs and benefits of alternative proposals.
Quantitative economic measurement is useful up to a certain point.
The value of human life, of freedom from sickness and pain, of safety on the streets, of clean air, and of opportunity for achievement are hardly measurable in monetary terms.
Public administration has thus increasingly concerned itself with developing better social indicators, quantitative and qualitative–that is, better indexes of the effects of public programs and new techniques of social analysis.
Another development has been an increasing emphasis on human relations. An experiment brought out the importance to productivity of social or informal organization, good communications, individual and group behavior, and attitudes (as distinct from aptitudes).
Awareness of the importance of human relations influenced the conduct of public administration.
By the late 1930s the human relation’s approach had developed into a concept known as “organization development.” Its primary goal was to change the attitudes, values, and structures of organizations so that they could meet new demands.
Organization development stressed the identification of personal with:
? Organizational goals, the “self-actualization” of workers and managers,
? Effective interpersonal communication,
? Broad participation in decision making.
Its direct use within governmental agencies has been limited and has not always been successful, but it has had considerable indirect influence upon administrators.
Another modern movement in public administration has been the greater participation of citizens in government.
It was stimulated during the 1950s and ’60s by a growing feeling that governments were not responding to the needs of their citizens, particularly minority groups and the poor. These involved the delegation of decision making from central to local offices and, at the local level, the sharing of authority with citizen groups.
Future of public administration
? Extra-ordinary explosion of new knowledge and technological innovations
? Accommodation of ourselves and institutions to this explosion
? Coping and employing our knowledge
? Using the knowledge for benefit rather than destruction
? Falling prey to technological imperative and allowing rational technical interests to supercede human concerns
? “Twilight of hierarchy”
? Quantity of information will no longer be the most important issue
? Organizing knowledge for human purposes, facilitating the pursuit of important public purposes
? Organizing information for enhancing the process of democratic decision-making, of consensus building, and of dialogue and deliberation
? More involvement of citizens in decisions
? Increasing integration and globalization (of business, politics, culture) rather Trans-globalization
? Free market economy
? Free society (refers to pluralist society rather than homogeneous)
? Economic stagnation
? Identifying responsibilities rather than functions of government
? Building up communities (includes diminishing polarization, teaching diversity and respect, building coalitions, resolving disputes, negotiating and mediating, promotion of pluralism, etc.)
? Erosion of confidence in traditionally structured institutions (includes social institutions like business, labor, media, religion, etc.)
? Turn Public management “inside-out” and “upside-down”
? Internal focus replaced by external focus on citizens and citizenship (two-way street between citizens and government)
? Traditional top-down orientation replaced by shared leadership system
? Centralized and controlled existence (No BOSS and MANAGER concept)
? Execution through patterns of teamwork and shared leadership
? Clusters of people working and growing together
? Leadership “energizes” and energizing the group means energizing the leadership
Future tasks of Public Administration
? Make democracy suitable for modern conditions
? Support efforts that extend democracy
? New roles to be played with respect to the public i.e. “Citizen’s First” concept
? Less controlling and more of supporting, resolving, exploring, creating and caring
? Developing and maintaining more democratic forms of organizations and management
? Integration of theories and practice
? Public service to make a difference for a better future for all
Riaz Ahmad Malik
University of the Punjab
References for Future of Public Administration: Mr. Robert B. Denhardt (University of Delaware)