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