Administrative Discretion - Essay

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Administrative Discretion

Should public administrators be restricted to only laid down rules in the discharge of their duties as espoused by Max Weber or should they have some amount of discretion? To me that is a very open question in regards to public administration and depending on the situation either administrators’ following guidelines is best or administrators following their best discretion can be the best for the situation at hand. So when answering this question I can go either way, situation and circumstances permitting. In this paper I will go into further detail to explain why both sides of this question are equally applicable.

When situations arise and public administrators have to make decisions in regards to the public safety, environmental safety, or the safety of anything in general it is important that they follow the laid down rules that their duties are bound by. Legal-rational authority “is based on a belief in the legitimacy of the pattern of normative rules and the rights of those elevated to authority under such rules to issue commands” (1). This can also be translated into “follow the rules of society!” Everything has always worked better if everyone and everything follows this bureaucratic rule of thumb. One situation where public administrators should have been held to follow the laid down rules in regards to their duties was the finalization of the DoD, or Department of Defense’s budget. The ultimate work around was an extension to make a decision and funds were allocated for the mean time but potentially this could have been a major freeze on the majority of DoD operations to include the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard.

On the other hand, there is another option that makes sense. Public administrators, while following the laid down rules they are to follow, can be very effective when allowed varying amounts of discretion in their actions. Weber states that legal-rational authority is...
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