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