INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
What is Public Administration?
Public administration may be defined as the management of all the activities and operations of the three branches of the government at the Central, State and Local levels.
The activities and operations of the government include, among other things, policy formulation and execution; provision of various public services (education, health care, housing, welfare, etc) ; enactment and enforcement of laws; conducting diplomacy and international relations; planning, implementation and evaluation of development programmes and projects; providing defence and internal security; tax collection; administration of justice; administration of social security; financial and personnel administration.
Other definitions of Public Administration are the following:
Public Administration is the accomplishment (pencapaian) of politically-determined objectives. ~ Dimock and Dimock
Public Administration is policy formulation (penggubalan) and policy execution. ~ James W. Fesler
Public Administration consists of all those operations having for their purpose the fulfilment or enforcement of public policy. ~ L.D. White
Public administration is detailed and systematic execution of public law. Every particular application of general law is an act of administration. ~ Woodrow Wilson
Public administration is decision-making, planning the work to be done, formulating objectives and goals.... establishing and reviewing organizations, directing and supervising employees, exercising controls and other functions performed by government executives and supervisors. It is the action part of government - it is the means by which the purposes and goals of government are realised (tercapai). ~ Corson and Harris
Public administration is centrally concerned with the organization of government policies and programmes as well as the behaviour of non-elected officials formally responsible for their conduct. ~ UN Economic and Social Council
Scope of Public Administration
The POSDCORB View of Administration
Luther Gulick and L. Urwick (1937) , two prominent social scientists, sum up the various aspects of the scope of public administration in the acronym ( perkataan yang terbentuk daripada huruf-huruf awal) POSDCORB. It contains the first letters of seven administrative activities or functions of management. POSDCORB stands for the following managerial tasks:
P - Planning : It means deciding in advance the various activities to be carried out and the methods of implementing them.
O - Organizing : It means establishing the formal structure of authority for the effective execution of the planned activities and the achievement of pre-determined objectives.
S - Staffing : It includes the entire personnel function of recruitment of suitable persons and training of staff for specific job functions.
D - Directing : It means leading the organizing by making decisions and issuing orders and instructions to the staff for guiding them in their work.
Co - Coordinating: It means interrelating the various units of the organization and work processes to achieve the purposes of the organization.
R - Reporting : It involves keeping both the superiors and subordinates informed of what is going on through inspections, reports, research and records.
B - Budgeting: It includes financial planning, accounting, auditing and control.
We could sum up the scope of public administration this way:
The study and practice of public administration includes the activities of all the three branches of government at the central, state and local levels.
Public administration is concerned with the study of the structures and functions of the various public organizations, the behaviour of members working in them and the various theories of organization.
Public administration deals with the administrative processes, methods and procedures. Administrative processes such as communication, control and decision-making show the dynamic aspects of administrative agencies. The methods and procedures constitute the 'how' of administration.
Public personnel administration is an important area in the study of public administration. This branch of public administration deals with the problems of personnel employed in public organization- such as recruitment, training, compensation, promotion, discipline, retirement, morale, motivation, employer-employee relations and so on.
Financial administration is another major division of the study of public administration. It includes the budgetary process, accounting and auditing.
Administrative accountability forms part of the study of public administration. Accountability in public administration is enforced by means of both internal and external controls. While internal controls are self-imposed, the external controls are in the form of legislative, judicial and external audit controls over administration.
Characteristics of Public Administration
a. It is concerned with implementing government policies and programmes.
b. It delivers various services various services to the public.
c. It has a system of rules and regulations, laws, procedures, policies and hierarchical structures.
d. It covers all the three branches of government- namely, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
e. It manages and coordinates all the activities of the government at all levels.
f. It is governed by the principles of accountability, neutrality, transparency (ketelusan) , impartiality, anonymity and ethical
g. It is funded by the government every to carry out all activities of the government. Its yearly allocations are approved by the
h. It is the action part of government- i.e. it is involved in decision-making, delivering services, managing financial and human
resources to achieve the objectives of the government.
i. The personnel are recruited and promoted on the basis of merit and seniority.
j. It is service-oriented.
k. It is an instrument of social change and economic development.
l. It is under the control of the political executive.
Private Versus Private (Business) Administration
Some important similarities between public and private administration may be noted as follows:
a. Both public and private administration are practical and provide people such common services as public utilities, social services and scientific and technical services.
b. They both use the same management processes, such as planning, organizing, decision-making and problem-solving, leading, controlling and so on.
c. They make use of certain common skills such as account-keeping, records-maintaining, compiling statistics and analysing them and auditing.
d. The element of hierarchically-arranged bureaucracy is found in both public and business organizations.
Despite the foregoing similarities, there are significant differences between public and private administration. These may be stated as follows:
a. Public administration is service-oriented whereas business administration is profit-driven. The various government departments and other public agencies provide various services to the people regardless of financial profit; its purpose is to promote the welfare of the people. By contrast, the major aim of business administration is to make profits for the owners of the business.
b. Many of the services provided by public administration are monopolistic (bersifat monopoli). For example, law-making; managing public utilities, maintaining army, etc. In these and many other public activities, the government has no real competition. On the contrary (sebaliknya), in most industries private business firms cannot escape competition. A business firm has to compete with (bersaing dengan) other firms producing similar products or substitutes.
c. The performance or achievements of public administration cannot be measured on monetary terms or by profit criteria. The services provided by the public agencies are aimed at promoting the welfare and well-being of the people. Therefore, the evaluation of such social services in relation to the costs incurred on them is difficult. But, in the case of business administration, a firm's performance can be measured easily by the profits earned or loss incurred (kerugian yang dialami) by it.
d. The public administrator is required to observe the principle of equality and impartiality in his dealings with the public. He cannot show any discrimination against any person. The business administrator, on the other hand, is not under any legal obligation to maintain consistency of treatment in his dealings with the people. It may be poor business sense if the small and the large customers are treated alike.
e. Public administration operates within the legal framework. The activities of public administrators are governed by strict laws, rules and regulations. Public administrators cannot carry our activities which are not authorized by law. In other words, they operate under legal restraints. By contrast, business administration is relatively free from such legal constraints. The business executives are generally free to select and implement those activities that bring more profits for their organization.
f. Public administration is both complex and large-scale administration. No private company can equal its size and diversity (kepelbagaian) of its activities. Government employs millions of people. Its customers are the people themselves who are both tax-payers and beneficiaries (yang mendapat manfaat) of public services. On the other hand, even a large private firm has a very limited public - the suppliers of material and equipment and the buyers of its products. Its employees are also limited in number. The scope of the activities of the government is more comprehensive and diverse than those of private business organisations.
g. Public administration is political while business administration is non-political. Public administration functions not only under political direction but also according to the directions given by the legislature and elected political leaders. On the contrary, no business firm functions under political control or direction. A business firm largely functions under the influence of market conditions.
Role of Public Administration in the Modern State
(i) An instrument for providing services
Public administration is mainly concerned with the delivery of various services to the public. It protects the life and property of the people by maintaining internal security and order. It defends the nation against external aggression. It provides a number of services to the people (such as health care, education, welfare benefits, social security, housing, public utilities, etc). The various services provided by public administration affect the life of every citizen from the cradle to the grave. In fact, it is not possible for us to enjoy the various services of the government if there is no public administration.
(ii) An instrument for implementing public policies
Modern governments formulate and adopt several policies and laws. But these policies and laws are merely printed papers. It is public administration that translates these paper declarations and intentions into reality. Thus, it converts words into action, form into substance. Be implementing these laws and policies, it delivers promised benefits to the people and regulates their behaviour.
(iii) A stabilising force in society
Public administration maintains social unity and harmony and the stability of social institutions by solving social problems. It provides an element of continuity (kesinambungan) when governments change often in a country. Governments may come and governments may go, but administration goes on forever. It survives even revolutions. In any state the bureaucracy carries on with the government even though the rulers change every now and then. In our country, the administrative organization that was developed by the British before independence has continued even after independence, with some changes.
(iv) An instrument of social change and economic development.
Public administration acts as an instrument of social change and economic development. The role of public administration as a change agent is particularly important in developing nations. The immediate tasks of public administrators are to eliminate poverty, unemployment and great disparities of wealth and achieve economic growth and equitable distribution of wealth. They have to work hard to implement industrialization and modernization programmes and resolve problems faced by the people. To achieve economic prosperity and realise the social welfare goals they have resorted to economic planning. All these have placed challenging tasks on public administration. Public bureaucracies in the developing nations must be competent and free from corruption in order to meet the challenges of economic development and to effect social change. They must be both task-oriented and goal-oriented. Only then they can bring about economic transformation.
Reasons for the growing importance of public administration
(a) Scientific and Technological Developments
The impact of scientific discoveries, inventions and advances in information and communication technology on public administration is very great. These developments have led to revolutionary changes in many fields, such as transportation, communication, agriculture, trade, etc. these in turn have made 'big government' possible. 'Big government' means vast increase in the scope of public administration. in other words, the explosion of science and technology has placed new and heavy responsibilities and challenges on public administration.
(b) Economic Planning
Another factor that accounts for the growing importance of public administration is the concept of planning introduced by modern governments throughout the world. To spur economic growth, they have undertaken several transformation programmes. It is the public administrators who formulate long-term and perspective development plans and programmes and implement them. This is so because the administrators have the necessary skills, experience and expertise for plan formulation. These responsibilities have widened the scope of public administration.
(c) Concept of Welfare State
A Welfare State is a social service state. it is a positive state which takes the responsibility to provide conditions of good life for all citizens. It is concerned with the welfare of the citizens 'from the womb to the tomb.' The ever-increasing demands on public administration for more and more services provides challenges to public administrators to be responsive to the needs of the people in an effective manner. They plan and implement protective, regulatory, economic, social welfare and nation-building activities. in other words, the positive welfare state acts as a protector, a dispenser of social services, a manager of key industries and a controller and regulator of private economic activities in the interest of socio-economic justice. This change in the political philosophy of the state has greatly increased the role and significance (kepentingan) of public administration.
(d) Population Growth
The enormous increase in the population of most countries has also led to the increasing importance of public administration. Population growth has complicated the problem providing necessities of life such as food, housing and welfare services. Population explosion particularly in urban areas has posed acute social and economic problems, such as congestion, squatters, lack of housing, transportation problem, increasing crime rates and so on. All these problems created by the growth of population have to be tackled by pubic administrators.
Politics/ Policy - Administration Dichotomy
The early study of public administration in the USA towards the end of the nineteenth century was based on the politics/policy - administration dichotomy theory. ('Dichotomy' means "Separation (pemisahan) or division into two.") According to this theory, policy-making is the business of politics and policy-implementation is the business of administration. while the elected legislators represent politics, the politically- neutral /non-political bureaucrats (civil servants) represent administration. The theory was developed on the basis of the functional distinction between "political" activity and "administrative" activity in public administration. It was also largely influenced by the separation of powers enshrined (termaktub) in the American Constitution. Another reason for the development of this theory was the concern of the early writers to keep politics out of administration and to develop the theory of administration on scientific lines.
The beginnings of the politics-administration dichotomy theory to the famous essay, "The study of Administration" (1887) written by Woodrow Wilson, the father or founder of the discipline of public administration. In his essay, the US scholar and statesman, stressed the need for developing an administrative system "removed from the hurry and strife of politics." To quote his words: "........ Administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics. Administrative questions are not political questions..... The field of administration is a field of business." He suggested that there is a clear difference between 'administration and politics' ; they are not the same.
However, it was Prof. Frank J. Goodnow who is associated with the theory of "Politics-Administration Dichotomy." In his book, "Politics and Administration" (1990), Goodnow supported the view of Woodrow Wilson and elaborated on the distinction (perbezaan) between politics and administration. According to him, "Politics has to do with policies or expressions of the state will (kehendak negara) , while administration has to do with the execution of these policies." In other words, politics is about policy-making and administration concerns policy-execution. In short, policy-making is the business of politics and policy implementation is the business of administration. This means that administration has no role to play in policy-making, and is limited to only policy execution. Elected lawmakers represent politics and politically-neutral bureaucrats and technocrats represent administration.
This theory has been rejected by most scholars (para sarjana). It is no longer valid (sah). Scholars like Appleby, Simon and Waldo are of the view that there is no clear separation between politics and administration. Public administration is policy-making and is part of the political process. In other words, public administration contributes to both the formulation and execution of policies. We can say that in the modern world public administrators, particularly the senior officers, play an important role in the policy-making process. They identify problems and issues affecting the nation, carry out research and studies, find alternative strategies to resolve them, initiate and prepare policies and laws for submission to the political executive for consideration. They also advise the political executive on national issues and policies.
© Peter Johnson 2010 - 2014