Public administration is the implementation of government policy, and the academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal... is to advance management and policies so that government can function." Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day"; and "the study of government decision making, theanalysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies." Public administration is "centrally concerned with the organization of government policies and programmes as well as the behavior of officials (usually non-elected) formally responsible for their conduct" Many unelected public servants can be considered to be public administrators, including heads of city, county, regional, state and federal departments such as municipal budget directors, human resources (H.R.) administrators, city managers, census managers, state mental health directors, and cabinet secretaries. Public administrators are public servants working in public departments and agencies, at all levels of government. In the US, civil servants and academics such as Woodrow Wilson promoted American civil service reform in the 1880s, moving public administration into academia. However, "until the mid-20th century and the dissemination of the German sociologist Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy" there was not "much interest in a theory of public administration." The field is multidisciplinary in character; one of the various proposals for public administration's sub-fields sets out six pillars, including human resources, organizational theory, policy analysis andstatistics, budgeting, and ethics. *
Even in the digital age, public servants tend to work with both paper documents and computer files (pictured here is Stephen C. Dunn, Deputy Comptroller for the US Navy) One scholar claims that "public administration has no generally accepted definition", because the "scope of the subject is so great and so debatable that it is easier to explain than define". Public administration is a field of study (i.e., a discipline) and an occupation. There is much disagreement about whether the study of public administration can properly be called a discipline, largely because of the debate over whether public administration is a subfield of political science or a subfield of administrative science". Scholar Donald Kettl is among those who view public administration "as a subfield within political science". The North American Industry Classification System definition of the Public Administration (NAICS 91) sector states that public administration "... comprises establishments primarily engaged in activities of a governmental nature, that is, the enactment and judicial interpretation of laws and their pursuant regulations, and the administration of programs based on them". This includes "Legislative activities, taxation, national defense, public order and safety, immigration services, foreign affairs and international assistance, and the administration of government programs are activities that are purely governmental in nature". From the academic perspective, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the United States defines the study of public administration as "A program that prepares individuals to serve as managers in the executive arm of local, state, and federal government and that focuses on the systematic study of executive organization and management. Includes instruction in the roles, development, and principles of public administration; the management of public policy;...
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