Posc 430 – Fundamentals of Public Administration and the Public



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POSC 430 – Fundamentals of Public Administration

Public Administration and the Public

The Public’s Interaction with Public Administration

  • Every person in the United States is affected by some public administrative actions all of the time. Six main overlapping categories:
  • Clients and customers – over half of the population has had one direct contact with the government on employment, job training, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, public assistance, hospital/ medical care, or retirement benefits.

The Public’s Interaction with Public Administration

  • Regulatees – vehicular licenses, traffic violations, income taxes, and police matters the four most common.
  • Participants – Direct public participation.
  • Litigants – lawsuits against public administrators.
  • Street-level encounters – Direct interaction with public administrators (police discretion, for example).

The Individual in the Administrative State

  • Public administration thoroughly permeates American society. Administrative controls have replaced more traditional social controls.
  • Public administration has tended to be bureaucratically organized despite the NPM’s successes in changing this to some extent.

The Individual in the Administrative State

  • Bureaucracy is at odds with society because it relies on “rationally organized action,” rather than “social action.

Bureaucracy vs. Society

  • Precision.
  • Stability.
  • Discipline.
  • Reliability.
  • Calculability of results.
  • Formal rationality.
  • Formalistic impersonality.
  • Formal equality of treatment.
  • Justice.
  • Freedom.
  • Violence.
  • Oppression.
  • Happiness.
  • Gratification.
  • Poverty.
  • Illness.
  • Death.
  • Victory.
  • Love and hate.
  • Salvation and damnation.

The Individual in the Administrative State

  • Public administration, bureaucratically organized, tends to be in tension or conflict with society in terms of styles of action, emotional feelings, and overriding concerns.
  • The differences between societal and bureaucratic values are social interaction versus administrative action; feeling versus doing; and belief, randomness, and emotionalism versus specialized expertise, systemization, and impersonality.

The Individual in the Administrative State

  • The problem arises when administrative values replace societal values in so many public functions.

The Individual in the Political System

  • The individual’s role in the political system also undergoes major transformation with the rise of the administrative state.
    • The difficulty elected officials have controlling and holding accountable administrative agencies.
    • Popular sovereignty is compromised by the tendency of the public to become subjects of the administrative state.
    • Democracy and bureaucracy clash.

Democracy versus Bureaucracy

  • Equality.
  • Rotation in office.
  • Freedom.
  • Pluralism.
  • Citizen participation.
  • Openness.
  • Community.
  • Legitimacy based on election.
  • Hierarchy.
  • Seniority.
  • Command.
  • Unity.
  • Participation based on enterprise.
  • Secrecy.
  • Impersonality.
  • Legitimacy based on expertise.

The Individual in the Economy

  • The contemporary administrative state also changes the individual’s place in the economic system.
  • Government inevitably gains greater control over the nation’s economic resources.
  • Makes individuals dependent on government for their well-being.
  • The accumulation of wealth in government’s hands gives government more leverage over the individual.

The Public’s Evaluation of Public Administration

The Public’s Evaluation of Public Administration

  • Clients and customers are satisfied.
    • Surveys are unreliable.
    • Negative experience lowers expectations, but positive is considered accident.
    • General taps ideology, specific taps pragmatism.
  • Regulation is opposed.
  • Contractors are conflicted.

The Public’s Evaluation of Public Administration

The Public’s Evaluation of Public Administration

Public Administrative Perspectives on the Public

  • Traditional managerial approach.
    • Maximization efficiency, effectiveness, and economy. Result: depersonalization.
    • Ombudsman.
    • Cost effectiveness of public-administrator interaction.
    • Avoid burden shift of costs to public.

Public Administrative Perspectives on the Public

  • NPM approach.
    • Public as customers.
      • Surveys and benchmarking from private sector.
      • Downplays utility of traditional political channels.
        • Clients may not have same preferences as whole public.
        • Political systems have barriers to majority preferences.
      • How do you identify which customers to satisfy?
      • Identifying customers can be thorny issue.

Public Administrative Perspectives on the Public

  • NPM (New Public Management) approach.
    • Contractors as partners in service and goods delivery.
      • Shift regulations from rules to guiding principles.
      • Out-sourcing.

Public Administrative Perspectives on the Public

  • Political approach to the public.
    • Emphasizes values of representation, responsiveness, and accountability.
    • Premium on participation.
      • Lack of participation reduces responsiveness and representativeness.
      • Nonparticipation reduces civic obligation.
      • Nonparticipation produces ignorance.
      • Nonparticipation increases alienation.
      • Participation promotes community.
      • Participation promotes legitimacy.
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