There are various types of governments in countries the world over, for instance, many countries follow Democracy in which the people of the country hold the ultimate power, and some countries follow Anarchy, where individual rules the country. Public Administration is mainly found in developed countries and the sole aim of the same is to ensure that people are benefitted. Public Administration ensures the well-being of people by taking the most appropriate decisions to suit the situations. Public Administration is a very important aspect because it directly affects the quality of life of the people and one wrong decision taken by the government often proves to be fatal in deciding the fate of the people. Public Administration is certainly a big problem and the same will be proved in this paper. The example of America will be considered and a conclusion will be arrived at.
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“Dwight Waldo wrote nearly fifty years ago that democracy is very much more than the political context in which public administration is carried out. Public administration is now less hierarchical and insular and is increasingly networked. This has important implications for democracy, including changing responsibilities for the public interest, meeting public preferences, and for the enhancement of political deliberation, civility, and trust. Networked public administration can pose a threat to democratic governance and it can open possibilities for strengthening governance, depending on the values and actions of public administrators.” (Journal of Public Administration, 2008).
Public Administration is all about carrying out what is expected, in other words, it is the fulfillment of obligations. When so many obligations have to be fulfilled then it becomes a very big challenge and this is where Public Administration comes into play. It is a systematic form of carrying out the obligations and in countries where Public Administration is successfully implemented very few or no conflicts are found in the relationship of the citizens and the people responsible for carrying out Public Administration. It is extremely important for the people handling public administration to establish trust and civility. Civility is one of the most important in Public Administration, without politeness, a public administration endeavor can never become successful.
Public Management is an extremely difficult process as it is very complicated and involves a lot of effort. It becomes even more complicated because it involves a large sum of money, which is usually spent for the benefit of people. Public management includes various tools with the help of which efficiency and effectiveness are maximized. The most important function of the administration is to come up with innovative ideas when the government is facing a catastrophe. There are various organizations in different countries that study public management. In the United States of America, the American Society for Public Administration is responsible for building a bridge between the government and the people to ensure that public management is carried out smoothly. Some of the most important functions of the American Society for Public Administration as per the body are as follows:
“Advances the art, science, teaching, and practice of public and non-profit administration. Promotes the value of joining and elevating the public service profession. Builds bridges among all who pursue public purposes. Provides networking and professional development opportunities to those committed to public service values.” (Advancing Excellence in public service, 2008)
Since the most important function of public management is to come up with innovative solutions during a catastrophe, let’s now focus upon the various catastrophes which have recently hit the American government and the way they were dealt with. The biggest catastrophe in terms of an attack to have hit the American government in recent times was the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The attacks were carried out successfully and everything in America came to a standstill after the attacks. The Stock market plunged to unprecedented levels and the US government was taken aback. “Bush and company are struggling to reaffirm the official story, that the US was caught by surprise, just as it was at Pearl Harbor, and the same Air Force that was able to intercept Payne Stewert’s plane just couldn’t seem to get off the ground while four hijacked planes wandered out to Ohio before heading back to hit their targets on the East Coast, and all the work if a tiny group of Arab fanatics.” (What Happened, 2008).
It is believed that President Bush has prior knowledge of the attacks which rocked the US government; he also had access to bank accounts of the people involved in the attacks. Considering this, one fails to understand why no appropriate action was taken to counter the same. So many innocent people lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks and the US government was taken for a ride, the most surprising thing is that President Bush had prior knowledge of the attacks even though no appropriate action was taken. This goes to show a major pitfall in public management in the US. Had it been some other developed country, the government would have dealt with the situation in a much better way than the US government, given the fact that the US government had prior intimation on the attacks, but nothing worth noticing was done to safeguard the lived of the innocent people who were killed in the 9/11 massacre.
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“Effective decision making in New York was hampered by problems in command and control and internal communications. Within the Fire Department of New York, this was true for several reasons: the magnitude of the incident was unforeseen; commanders had difficulty communicating with their units; more units were dispatched than were ordered by the chiefs; some units self-dispatched; and once units arrived at the World Trade Center, they were neither comprehensively accounted for nor coordinated. The Port Authority’s response was hampered by the lack both of standard operating procedures and of radios capable of enabling multiple commands to respond to an incident in a unified fashion. The New York Police Department, because of its history of mobilizing thousands of officers for major events requiring crowd control, had a technical radio capability and protocols more easily adapted to an incident of the magnitude of 9/11.” (A Nation Transformed, 2008).
After instances like 9/11 public management in the US comes under scrutiny, Bush himself has admitted that the government failed to deal with the catastrophe effectively. People also questioned the sluggishness of the rescue workers. The Security came under the scanner as well, 19 people were involved in hijacking 3 planes that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon one after the other, all the 19 succeeded in their endeavor and got away very easily in the routine security check done at the airport, this goes to show that the security system was very flawed and gave every chance to extremists to make the most of it and the extremists certainly did not put a foot wrong in ensuring that they teach the government a lesson. The US government made a mockery of itself by letting 19 hijackers get away as easily as they did, the security should have been tighter. Had that been the case no such event would have taken place. Another striking thing which should be noticed here is that the US government was continuously warned by Al- Qaeda of the attacks which were going to take place but looking at the results it seems like all the warnings fell on deaf ears and this was exactly why no action was taken to make sure that no undesirable activity took place. There are more mistakes than one made by the US government in handling the 9/11 catastrophe. First of all, it could have been prevented, all the 19 hijackers involved had bank accounts in the US, and considering this the bank authorities should have anticipated that there was something wrong that was going to happen just by looking at the bank records of the 19 hijackers. This goes to show that the bank authorities should introduce new rules which will restrict any such catastrophes in the future. If all these aspects are considered and worked upon then the US would surely have a good public management system in place to deal with such attacks in the future.
Another classic example that reaffirmed the mismanagement in the US was the government’s inability to deal with Hurricane Katrina, it just came like lightning and took with it many innocent lives and the US government could hardly do anything about it. The state of New Orleans was the most severely affected state by the hurricane, there has been a lot of criticism aimed at the US government by the people of the country and this was because so many people were left stranded without shelter, food, and other important needs. The rescue facilities were far from being satisfactory and there was sluggishness all around and this was exactly why the US government faced so much criticism by the people. There has been a new term invented which is Katrinagate for criticizing the US government. This is completely understandable considering the top-notch facilities available in the US and the fact that the government could not make use of them and gave room for criticism by displaying their sluggish attitude in the rescue process. Many people who had no food, no water, and other basic facilities died because of the lack of basic facilities, the US government did not efficiently deal with the situation and on top of that, there was sheer ignorance shown by various leaders who were expected to behave in a much-matured manner. It is also believed that the US government deliberately delayed rescue and relief operations, finally ending up making matters worse. Many people are offended by Ray Nagin the Mayor of New Orleans, they believe that he completely failed in the evacuation plan implemented by him which caused further chaos and lead to more deaths. It is also believed that he deliberately delayed the emergency evacuation, which eventually resulted in the death of many innocent people. When people like Ray Nagin are in charge of various states in the US, how can one expect the country to head in the right direction at least as far as Public Management is concerned?
“Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.” (Iraq War Delayed Katrina Relief Effort, 2008). Another shocking statement is that the Iraq war delayed the relief efforts in Hurricane Katrina. It is beyond the understanding of an individual how this statement can be true. The situation which demanded immediate attention was ignored and the situation which demanded no attention was given top priority. This is very true and all this happened which was why the relief operation in dealing with Hurricane Katrina was a complete failure. The root cause why this happened was the mismanagement of funds, the funds which were allocated for disaster management were allotted to different sections, this was done by the leaders placed at the highest positions in the US government, there are two possibilities here, either they were very sure that no natural disaster would occur or they were defying nature and when human beings try to defy nature a natural disaster like hurricane takes place to remind the human beings of the fact that no one can defy nature and anyone who tries to do it will have to face the consequences of the same. The mismanagement was on the part of the US government and ultimately George Bush is to blame for it.
“It charts how “corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government” had “diverted money earmarked for improving flood protection to other, more vote-getting, projects. Past mayors and governors gambled that the long-expected Big Killer hurricane would never happen. That bet was lost with Hurricane Katrina.” (Iraq War Delayed Katrina Relief Effort, 2008). The leaders who are trusted by the people betrayed the citizens of the US by gambling against the occurrence of a hurricane but this was proved otherwise. It is also believed that double standards were followed during the rescue operations, families which had a military background were first rescued ignoring the interest of the civilians, which raised many eyebrows and the rescue operation came under tight scrutiny. It is also believed that the civilians were denied even drinking water facilities. The president wanted military personnel to be actively involved in disaster management but on the contrary, the laws framed by the US government forbid the active participation of the US military in such operations. The most important factor is that the US military is not trained to carry out rescue operations and carrying out rescue operations is no child’s play, it requires rigorous training as no mistakes are affordable. After the happening of Hurricane Katrina, it is certain and that the US government needs a lot of improvement in the field of Public Management, planning the government needs a lot of improvement and this can only be done by electing leaders who will selflessly work for benefit of the people.
Another most significant failure of the US government that has not only impacted the US Economy but also various other economies all across the globe is the Subprime mortgage crisis. The crisis has taken over the stock markets all across the globe and triggered off a never-seen bear run. Millions are getting affected because of the same and this time the damage is not restricted to the US alone, it has reached many other countries and this is because the US economy is the largest in the world. Even a minor correction in the US stock markets triggers off an inevitable correction in various other markets. The Fed failed to carry out its responsibility of maintaining economic stability in the country because it went completely wrong in estimating the impact that the crisis could have. One major function of the Fed is to ensure a check on the asset prices, to be very precise the Fed has completely failed in making sure the same. When asset prices are talked about, it invariably refers to house prices. There are various reasons why the house prices can go up and one significant reason is the most basic which is the demand and supply function.
Another reason behind a change in property prices can be Mortgages. A mortgage is the money borrowed to buy a house, as for most people buying a house is not easy. Over the years mortgage market has picked up greatly and the current scenario is different from the one that existed in the beginning. (The UK Housing Market – Factors Influencing the Housing Market: Mortgages).
The subprime crisis, however, triggered off because of the subprime lenders lending without checking the ability of the borrowers, which encouraged the people who wanted to own a house and millions pumped in money thinking that the value of their houses would increase and they would pay the loans with ease, but unfortunately the property prices came down and ultimately the US government had to issue a bailout worth $700 billion to cool off the subprime issue.
This goes to show that the planning function of the US government is not operating as it should. Numerous examples in the past have gone on to prove the same.
Public management should be the main course of action by Barrack Obama after taking charge as the President of the US. Obama has promised the people of New Orleans that there will be a significant improvement in rescue management after he takes charge as the President. He has also promised the people that there will be attention given to the health care facilities and education. He has assured the people that there will be better flood management under his Presidency. If all these promises are kept then it could be concluded that the future of Public Management is in the right hands. The mistakes are right in front of Barrack Obama, it is the time to learn from them and make amends. The people of the US will be delighted if Obama delivers what he has promised especially concerning Public Management.
- A Nation Transformed. In National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Web.
- Advancing Excellence in Public Service. In The American Society for Public Administration.
- Iraq War Delayed Katrina Relief Efforts. In The Independent.
- Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory (Transaction); 97, Vol. 7 Issue 3, p443, 17p
- “The UK Housing Market – Factors Influencing the Housing Market: Mortgages” 2008. bized. biz/ed.
- What Really Happened. In What Did the Government Know? Web.