Public Administration Overview

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The Enterprise of Public Administration
The Business of Public Administration

By Alan Estacio

Dwight Waldo wrote "The Enterprise of Public Administration" in 1979 looking back on a long academic career, but also as a reflection about the future for public administration. Can a 30-year-old book be relevant?

• Several of Waldo's comments are accurate about today's issues • debt crisis, e-government and trust in government. • The modern U.S. is established on a foundation of economic growth, abundance and consensus. • a new paradigm of scarcity, decay and conflict is increasing pressure on public administration.

Foresight and Principles
• The first principle suggests that there is conflict between bureaucracy and democracy that obliges public servants to protect democratic values • This makes it impossible to run government fully as a business as businesses do not have to consider these values.

• Second, there is no dichotomy between politics and bureaucracy. • The traditional separation between principal and agent was for Waldo theoretically interesting, but realistically impossible.

• Third, Waldo noted that ruthless pursuit of efficiency must be offset with consideration of public access. • Government efficiency can be excessive and harmful to the interests of the people. According to Waldo, if efficiency is the only consideration, then bureaucracy fails to serve the people.

• Last, Waldo considered government to be more complex than business; therefore, it must be managed differently. • The Constitution is a vital steering document for government, but it has limited implications in the daily life of a business. One example of government's complexity is that far more stakeholders affect public administration in comparison to a business operation.

Waldo's predictions about the future for public administration describe five areas that would be problematic:

• Legitimacy, the capability and focus to deliver the...
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