Public Administration So Far

A lit­tle bit be­low this are some good [but some­what too dis­pas­sion­ate] quotes about the field of pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion. I keep wait­ing to read about how the civ­il ser­vice is ser­vice to the cit­i­zen, but I have a feel­ing I’m go­ing to be read­ing lots more about prag­mat­ic in­flu­ence wran­gling be­fore I ever get to eth­i­cal and moral codes for pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion. I sure hope some of that ex­ists.

From the his­to­ry of the field that we’ve cov­ered thus far, it seems that PA styles in prac­tice have been re­ac­tionary to the needs of the time in­stead of an­tic­i­pa­to­ry. If this is the case, then I be­lieve that this is the rea­son that pub­lic bu­reau­cra­cy in America gets such a bad rap. Stuff doesn’t get fixed un­til it’s so bro­ken that every­body no­tices. Coupled with what ap­pears to be a lack of eth­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion of the PA process, there seems to be lots of room for im­prove­ment in both prac­tice and study of PA. Of course, I’ve on­ly been to two class­es, and I ex­pect my ig­no­rance will be reme­died.

Whoever would ef­fect a change in mod­ern con­sti­tu­tion­al gov­ern­ment must first ed­u­cate his fel­low-cit­i­zens to want some change. That done, he must then per­suade them to want the par­tic­u­lar change he wants.  He must first make pub­lic opin­ion will­ing to lis­ten and then see to it that it lis­tens to the right things. He must stir it up to search for an opin­ion, and then man­age to put the right opin­ion in its way.

A truth must be­come not on­ly plain, but com­mon­place be­fore it will be seen by the peo­ple who go to their work very ear­ly in the morn­ing; and not to act up­on it must in­volve great and pinch­ing in­con­ve­niences be­fore these same peo­ple will make up their minds to act up­on it.

Trust is strength in all re­la­tions of life; and, as it is the of­fice of the con­sti­tu­tion­al re­former to cre­ate con­di­tions of trust­ful­ness, so it is the of­fice of the ad­min­is­tra­tive or­ga­niz­er to fit ad­min­is­tra­tion with con­di­tions of clear-cut re­spon­si­bil­i­ty which shall in­sure trust­wor­thi­ness.

Woodrow Wilson — The Study of Administration

It is clear that the bu­reau­crat­ic or­ga­ni­za­tion of a so­cial struc­ture, and es­pe­cial­ly of a po­lit­i­cal one, can and reg­u­lar­ly does have far-reach­ing eco­nom­ic con­se­quences…

The con­se­quences of bu­reau­cra­cy de­pend there­fore up­on the di­rec­tion which the pow­ers us­ing the ap­pa­ra­tus give to it. And very fre­quent­ly a cryp­to-plu­to­crat­ic dis­tri­b­u­tion of pow­er has been the re­sult.

In England, but es­pe­cial­ly in the United States, par­ty donors reg­u­lar­ly stand be­hind the bu­reau­crat­ic par­ty or­ga­ni­za­tions. They have fi­nanced these par­ties and have been able to in­flu­ence them to a large ex­tent.

Max Weber — Bureaucracy