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- An Overview of the Importance of Public Administration
- Public service
- Public Policy Agenda
An Overview of the Importance of Public Administration
In public administration today, many new reform ideas mingle, offering new diagnoses of governmental problems and courses of action. But scholars have highlighted reasons why we should doubt the optimistic claims of reformists. In this article, we address this lacuna.
We compare open government with three other historic reforms, and analyze how likely its ideas are to bear fruit.
In so doing, we introduce a framework for evaluating risks inherent in any new reform approach. We conclude that the challenges faced by open government are both new and old, but—like all reform approaches—they result from management challenges in reconciling competing interests and values that raise tensions and can lead to unexpected consequences. We argue that these will need careful attention if the open government approach is to have any hope of succeeding.
Public management reform is a powerful concept. If we look back on government institutions from any era, we find instances of movements within the political system seeking to redesign, revamp, or revise existing institutions. Thus, early United States public administration took inspiration from the harmony of inter-dependent parts in a biological organism Barnard or the regulating system of a machine Taylor Many predominantly English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as Australia and New Zealand in the s, were guided by market principles of organization Hood The turn of the twenty-first century worldwide saw the arrival of the network as an organizing principle McGuire These various reform ideas have, at various times, offered new inspiration for public managers.
Reformers adopt new models for present-day economic and political conditions, but, inevitably, public managers face friction and conflict when organization principles and values are put into practice Nabatchi For example, a market model, while powerful in many respects, introduces countervailing pressures between the need to compete in global markets and the need to respond to citizen demands for accountability and better services Aucoin ; Aucoin and Heintzman ; Bouckaert and Peters or legal constraints Bourdeaux and Chikoto Such tensions account for the challenges movements suffer in delivering their original ideals; they face criticisms from multiple actors, definitions of success come into contention, or the reforms fail in crucial respects or reach implementation impasses in new contexts and conditions Dunleavy and Hood ; Pressman and Wildavsky The existence of reform tensions does not mean that reforms are doomed to failure, but rather it highlights the challenges of turning abstract reform goals into the often messy process of implementation.
The same could be applied to the open government movement, where enthusiastic proclamations about its potential have set expectations high. The ideas of transparency, accountability, and participation bound together by the potential of new digital technologies emerged as a new reform movement in the most powerful country on earth Jaeger and Bertot The openness idea also influenced many areas of society from organization and business strategy e.
Openness is an inherently attractive concept for reform-minded policymakers and citizens, and advocates of openness as a tool for innovation, entrepreneurialism, better social relationships, and democratic forms of decision making are now omnipresent. But what is yet to be determined by public administration scholars is whether this fledgling movement represents any serious possibility of avoiding or circumventing any of the implementation tensions that we know from prior reforms to be serious impediments to success.
Now is an apt time to begin asking some important questions: Can open government change the public sector for the better where so many other attempts have already tried with limited success?
How could open government cope with reform tensions? This article poses these questions in order to explore the ambiguities and risks inherent in public management reforms. Drawing on an analytical framework of reform means and reform ends , which we develop by examining the experiences of earlier governmental reformers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we investigate how we can learn from earlier reform movements to understand the prospects for new reforms and open government as one, particularly important case.
We discuss how reform risks affect the open government movement in the realization of both its means and ends. The article thus both advances our theoretical understanding of public management reform tensions and develops our empirical understanding of open government specifically. Here we trace a brief history and analysis of prior public management reform movements. Understanding the history of public management reform movements, their growth and decline is key to understanding what is distinctive about how public organizations approach reform today and also understanding what challenges face the open government movement, as they have other movements in the past.
We also propose a conceptual framework for evaluating the means and ends of open government reform and describe how it applies to earlier cases of reform. In the Introduction above, we referred to the essential concepts—the organizing principles —that transformed public organization structures and processes such as NPM markets and NPG networks. These essential concepts can be analytically expanded in terms of the teleological the goal- or purpose-related aspects dimensions of means and ends.
For example, governments can pass laws mandating or regulating the reforms. They can also invest in new types of personnel or technologies. Table 1 summarizes three major phases of public management reform in terms of their means and ends that we elaborate below. These characteristics do not comprehensively describe the movements, but rather convey their most important ideas. Simultaneously, in Europe and the United States, a progressive movement sought to extend legal rights such as voting and holding public office to more members of society Rosenbloom ; Stivers Progressives also endeavored to develop massive public infrastructure projects such as the New York Port Authority on principles of scientific public administration.
They were meritocratic, focused on serving the interests of the public, and presumed insulated from political interferences Doig ; Rosenbloom Policy-wise, OPA was manifested in large-scale reengineering projects such as the Reorganization Act in the United States to strengthen and streamline the executive control of government in a more rational way Fesler Throughout these initiatives, OPA favored a machine-like organization of work units designed to process administrative tasks according to legal precepts and rational division of tasks.
However, later scholars such as Herbert Simon and Dwight Waldo questioned whether rule-based formulas could really deliver more effective government. Reform in the approach of OPA was a very concrete type of change with only a limited number of organizational arrangements that could be used to achieve success according to a given set of tasks, resources, and challenges.
In the s and early s, a new political movement of conservatives in Europe and new democrats in the United States aimed their critique at sluggish, oversized, bureaucratic government. The quest for better government outcomes took on a distinctive new flavor with the rise of NPM.
The means of reform in NPM were based on free-market economics and public choice theory. In Europe, Thatcher was a leading policy entrepreneur in a push to privatize state-run monopolies in energy, utilities, housing, and transport. In the s, U. NPM devoted a lot of attention to the role that businesses or nonprofit service providers play in governance. These theories suggested that self-interested actors in a free market with limited interference, entrepreneurial managers, and a customer orientation, could liberate the processes of managing public organizations and result in higher quality and efficiency of service delivery.
In fact, higher efficiency was often achieved at the expense of quality of service. Further, highlighting another area of tension, scholars such as Rhodes have argued that public choice principles have taken decision making and service delivery out of the hands of elected officials and thus diminished public accountability in the long term.
However, NPM ideas can also be seen in international institutions. For example, in , the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD established a Public Management Committee PUMA and Secretariat tasked with providing expertise to states and local governments for reforming and streamlining government agencies with the help of public—private partnerships, which highlighted the prominence of management reform policy across the entire European continent.
Given this gradual geographic spread and connection to global market forces, NPM tended to become reconfigured to fit different regions and scholars have argued that NPM has actually since splintered into a range of Post-NPM reforms Lynn ; Pollitt and Bouckaert This is a characteristic that is increasingly important in the later Post-NPM reforms and open government.
The diversification of NPM defines the most recent phase of public management reform. In this phase, starting from about the year , policymakers increasingly tried to address the efficiency and effectiveness tension by integrating the NPM approach to change with politically and socially oriented reform. Thus, in the early s, NPM became rivaled by another reform perspective focused on the concept of governance called the NPG.
NPG takes a broader, more fundamental notion of public actors who are involved in reforming government, creating its ultimate values, and sustaining its ability to change through the means of knowledge sharing and collaboration in intergovernmental and multi-sector partnerships Cheung The Post-NPM reforms are diverse and the set of actual cases represented by the term is a less cohesive set of programs compared to NPM.
But there are some notable examples. In the United States, the Clinton administration, a strong supporter of NPM reforms began to experiment with greater inter-agency collaboration, while premiers Blair in the United Kingdom and Howard in Australia both produced major reports heralding the potential of joined-up-government and whole-of-government approaches, respectively Alford and Hughes In the United Kingdom, the white paper on Modernising Government Prime Minister and Minister for the Cabinet Office set out how public services would become more coordinated across public agencies, private sector contracts, and citizens.
A notable emphasis in Australia and New Zealand was social policies aimed at community sharing of services that would improve access for disadvantaged groups, particularly indigenous peoples Humpage Post-NPM reform movements aim to address the perceived shortcomings of NPM such as its narrow focus on market principles and managerial control that have arguably led to a thinning of administrative institutions and the hollowing of the state Terry , as well as to an overly narrow focus on governmental efficiency Lynn ; Welch and Wong In our analysis below, many of these challenges emerge again in the case of open government.
Post-NPM programs became more participative and collaborative. Dunleavy et al. However, this focus also changed the type of challenges that networks face in delivering better services or policy problem solving as higher participation and legitimacy can erode public management effectiveness Provan and Milward ; Provan and Lemaire We now turn towards investigating how and why reforms experience inherent tensions and obstacles that lead them into implementation difficulties and even to failure.
We have seen how the legalistic approach of OPA had a strong means in terms of how public servants engineer government, but suffered from lack of transparency and flexibility. We have also seen how NPM used means of greater private sector partnerships but that it has struggled with realizing its stipulated goals such as efficiency and higher quality services.
Post-NPM embraces collaboration as a means of governmental change, but, by the same token, is beset by implementation challenges and political conflicts of values among different organizations. We conjecture that these challenges are distinct to each movement, but that they can also be generally explained using a framework of the specific means-ends characteristics and the organizational settings and structures used for realizing reform.
We represent this framework using two key dimensions in figure 1. Along the horizontal axis are the means and ends dimensions of reform.
Along the vertical axis are two fundamental organizational dimensions involved in managing reforms: 1 internal relationships in terms of managing staff, training, division of tasks, relationships with other departments or teams; 2 external relationships in terms of managing relationships with other organizations businesses or civil society groups , citizens, or other states.
The means of achieving reform can hypothetically go wrong through internal implementation problems or structural barriers in the external political and institutional environment. The ends can suffer from lack of achievement due to low compliance, low performance or internal contradictions that are externally shown in political conflicts where one political group upholds one type of end value and another group upholds another.
Thus, within the analytical lens of figure 1 , reform movements can encounter challenges in any one of four main ways, which we expand upon here.
While prior scholarship does not often take a systematic approach to understanding the origins of these diverse reform challenges a priori, we find that many of the concepts emerging from the framework have been noticed before.
We, therefore, make many connections with these literatures where possible. We see four different types of potential implementation problems: 1 design-reality gaps, 2 insufficient resources, 3 cross-country relevance, and 4 political influence. The following section explains each of these in more detail. The success of public management reforms is related to the ability of reformers to design and implement changes that reflect the initial visions of the reform.
But problems can occur in reforms when clear discrepancies begin to emerge between policy design and the reality of its implementation. According to Baier, March, and Saetren , as this gap widens so too does the probability increase that reform will fail. In many countries where reforms are introduced, governments encounter the reality of resource shortages and adequate public infrastructure even to effectively deliver the necessary public goods such as education, public transportation, and defence.
OPA during a time of expanding public services relied heavily on financial resources to implement new programs with new staff and technologies. NPM reforms also involved huge investments in structural readjustment programs that encourage increasing reliance on global economic markets and privatization. Post-NPM reformers in many countries inherit these hollowed-out governance institutions and must seek to implement new policies where there are internal challenges, such as reform shortages that continue to be experienced in the wake of the global credit crunch in In order to take root across different governmental systems, new reforms must get copied and diffused in what institutionalist scholars have called memetic isomorphism e.
Adoption of reforms may also diffuse due to normative or coercive pressures. Regardless of the form of institutional diffusion of reform, the process of diffusion is likely to encounter external challenges. Managers may not have the right skills to translate reform ideas from an original context into a new context Kettl For this reason, even globally successful reforms such as NPM were implemented in a more fragmented or contextually nuanced way than we might expect despite its nominal adoption by many governments Osborne Problems of implementation may also open the door to a different challenge for reforms: politics.
Governance comprises all of the processes of governing — whether undertaken by the government of a state , by a market , or by a network — over a social system family , tribe , formal or informal organization , a territory or across territories and whether through the laws , norms , power or language of an organized society. A variety of entities known generically as governing bodies can govern. The most formal is a government , a body whose sole responsibility and authority is to make binding decisions in a given geopolitical system such as a state by establishing laws. Other types of governing include an organization such as a corporation recognized as a legal entity by a government , a socio-political group chiefdom , tribe, gang , family, religious denomination , etc. In business and outsourcing relationships, Governance Frameworks are built [ by whom?
Global governance or world governance is a movement towards political cooperation among transnational actors, aimed at negotiating responses to problems that affect more than one state or region. Global governance involves multiple states, as well as international organizations , with one state having more of a lead role than the rest. The modern question of world governance exists in the context of globalization and globalizing regimes of power: politically, economically and culturally. In response to the acceleration of worldwide interdependence , both between human societies and between humankind and the biosphere , the term "global governance" may name the process of designating laws, rules or regulations intended for a global scale. Global governance is not a singular system.
A public service  is a service intended to serve all members of a community. The term is associated with a social consensus usually expressed through democratic elections that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income , physical ability or mental acuity. Examples of such services include the fire brigade , police , air force , and paramedics. See also: Public service broadcasting. Even where public services are neither publicly provided nor publicly financed , for social and political reasons they are usually subject to regulation going beyond that applying to most economic sectors. Public policy ,  when made in the public's interest and motivations, can provide public services.
This article conceptualizes the vulnerability of the different stages of Public-Private Partnership PPP models for corruption against the backdrop of contract theory, principal-agent theory and transaction cost economics, and discusses potential control mechanisms. Second, as these PPPs are used not only in developed countries whose legal order may shield them sufficiently, but also in developing countries, carving out the vulnerable points in PPP arrangements may enable decision makers to install appropriate control mechanisms, if need be on project level. Nonetheless, as every kind of private sector participation, PPPs are instruments that pose challenges on the public administration Farazmand , These cooperation models, being very different in design and form, in general have to balance between the managerial autonomy of the private partner and democratic accountability of the public body involved.
Public Policy Agenda
Structured in six broad categories through which to educate policymakers and others about the work and impact of nonprofits, the agenda fits specific policy goals into a consistent broader context. Nonprofit organizations are invited to use this Public Policy Agenda to inform and expand their own public policy work. Here are a few suggestions:. Charitable nonprofit organizations throughout the United States improve lives, strengthen communities and the economy, and lighten the burdens of government, taxpayers, and society as a whole. They are a vital part of our social fabric. The National Council of Nonprofits advocates at all levels of government -- federal, state, and local -- in all three branches of government legislative, executive, and judicial -- to inform policymakers of the impact of nonprofits and to promote policies that enable nonprofits to advance their missions.
This paper is available online at www. Researches in electronic government have indicated a number of organizational barriers that hinder the adoption and implementation of electronic government. This paper proposes a research framework for analysing how organizational barriers influence the adoption and implementation of e-government at local levels.
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Better ways of making policy and new models for public services are two of the Janaagraha Foundation, and Jo Tyabji for several connections in India. Child Maintenance and Enforcement Agency etc), and collaboration between national.