The Concept of Public Administration
Many concepts have more than one definition, and public administration is no exception. Firstly, it is the implementation of government policy. Secondly, it is an academic discipline focused on studying it. By the way, public service is quite an attractive perspective for many students. Those going to become civil servants might have Public Administration as their major at school.
One of the first definitions of the concept appeared in 1947. The phrasing was: “public leadership of public affairs directly responsible for executive action”. It is not very easy to understand and does not seem exhaustive. Thus, many other variants appeared.
This public instrument is an integral component of a democratic society. It is connected with the concepts of liberty, justice, economic opportunities, etc. Public organizations need to influence the government to balance different sources of power.
The concept of public administration deals with the principles of societal structure. Any example of it deals with the relationships between government and society. It is easier to explain the concept when we look at the cases.
Street-Level Bureaucracy & Public Administration
Public administration is essential for any society. The government’s success in meeting the needs of the community depends on how well it functions. The so-called “street-level bureaucracy” is one of the main problems in that aspect.
Street-level bureaucracy denotes a complex of agencies or other institutions where the civil servants are in contact with the general public. Street-level civil servants promote governmental decisions, spread ideas, and so on. The areas of their influence may vary from safety and security to education.
Street-level bureaucrats are directly connected with the concept of public administration. Both typically face several challenges:
- Inadequate resources. Their available resources are chronically deficient for the tasks they need to perform. The fact manifests itself in various forms. One of them is the inadequacy of financing. There may also be too many entities that each street bureaucrat needs to deal with. Perhaps the lack of experience or training might be another challenge.
- Constantly increasing demand. There should always be an increasing number of specialists to ensure a consistent provision of the services.
- Unclear or controversial expectations. The goals of the government and managers are sometimes ambiguous or even contradictory.
- Performance measurement problems. It is often difficult or impossible to measure the efficiency of the services. The bureaucracy at the street level deals with ambiguity in terms of efficiency.
- Problematic clients. Very often, street-level bureaucrats do not choose their clients or recipients of services. There is always a goal that the organization must achieve. Street-level bureaucrats need to adapt to such purposes and act accordingly.
Thus, there is a direct connection between public administration and street-level bureaucracy. Both concepts play vital roles in society.
Decision Making in Public Service
Decision making in any sphere is a complicated process. In public service, there is a high level of responsibility. Every decision may affect large groups of people. There are many challenging points in decision making in public service.
For example, public administration servants might face a lack of clarity or conflict regarding goals. Decision making is difficult when there are numerous parties involved.
Decision making in public service should also be as objective as possible. There are voting sessions in various committees that help reach the objectiveness. However, if a suggestion gets 50% of votes among street-level bureaucrats, how should this be interpreted? Is a minor preponderance of votes enough to accept a proposal?
The sphere implies a focus on societal needs. Sometimes the needs of the target population differ from the common societal ones. In such cases, public administration specialists need to find a balance between those interests.
Bureaucrats at street level need to take into consideration many factors. In some cases, it might be challenging to figure out what to do. It is especially true if the decision regards a long-term perspective.
Any public service organization has an established pattern for effective decision-making. Such models might involve many formalities. As a result, the process might be extremely time-consuming.
Moreover, public service bureaucrats work under the constant pressure of people’s opinions. Some members of the public are dissatisfied with whatever the bureaucrats decide.
Despite these difficulties, the bureaucracy makes countless decisions daily. The indicators for assessing those decisions are numerous. If a decision does not stand the test of time, it should probably be changed. It is not enough to make a decision once. One of the objectives in public administrations is to correct the course of action.
Public administration is a vital component of democratic governance structures. Any essay about public service provides numerous supporting arguments. If it were not for public administration, it would be impossible to meet the society’s needs.
Some of the challenges of public administration are inadequate resources, continually increasing demand for such services, controversial goals, and expectations, etc. Street-level bureaucrats need to find a balance between various interests and requirements.
There is a complex structure of organizations in public administration. What they all have in common is an aim to meet the needs of the public. They need to work in agreement with each other and the overall direction of the government.
Different organizations participate in public administration. Each entity has its pattern for the decision-making process. That process is often time-consuming and challenging. Moreover, decisions need to pass the test of time. Otherwise, the course of action should be modified.