Bureaucracy, where did it start? “The Judiciary Act of 1789, officially titled “An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States,” was signed into law by President George Washington on September 24, 1789. Article III of the Constitution established a Supreme Court, but left to Congress the authority to create lower federal courts as needed.” (Articles of Congress) Before this Act that established the three levels of government and the introduction of bureaucracy, the Native Americans and the English had an influence throughout the establishment of the constitution because they were against one individual having all or too much executive power. Woodrow Wilson as the founder of public administration also acknowledged this limiting of power. Both the English and the Indians had a mutual understanding between the government and those being governed that there was a need to set limits and responsibilities of each. Even the first draft of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union included term limits and was against executive authority. The states had the power and Congress did not really have any legislative powers. The states continued to draft their own constitutions but still restricted executive power. People were still not allowed to vote and state administrators only had direct reports on the state and local level.
Hamilton and Jefferson, two executive founders of early America had different views about bureaucracy and democracy. Hamilton was the first treasury secretary and the first scholar of public administration. He praised a strong chief executive and said it was needed to make government function because a weak executive equals a weak government (Henry). He was a strong advocate for bureaucracy and thought that department heads should be paid well and should be given substantial powers. He also wanted their tenure to be extended beyond the chief executive who appointed them but Congress did not agree. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, did not trust bureaucracy and was not a fan of professionalism in public administration. Both of them were concerned about government honesty and efficiency mainly because these values were included in the creation of public administration. Madison wrote the first draft of the constitution and the word administration was not included because of the influence that Jefferson had on Madison. Jefferson wanted the federal and executive government separate from the state and local government, he was not in support for public administration. Jefferson later after gaining some experience as a public official, changed his view and started supporting the more power for public executives.
When looking at the American’s perspective on government most believe that they want the freedom to pursue their own individual goals and for the government to ensure that no one is in need but then ironically, they think that poor people are too dependent on government assistance programs American culture of administrative constraint is unique to the public sector and quite the opposite of the public sector. The consensus believes that government rests and should operate on three backbones: honesty, democracy, and competency. Only 1/4th of Americans trust political leaders and the government that they operate. This represents the lowest percentage of trust in the 50-year data history. (Henry) Americans are under the impression that special interest groups influence elected officials and that their attention is on their careers and more than the people that they represent. The big picture of government is not well supported by Americans and that the elected officials represent the biggest part of their negativity. Many think that government is not run to support the people and there is a need for change. I found interesting that the perception of government by the people overflows into public opinion and performance. If there is a high level of trust and regard for the government then there is less corruption, crime, better economic growth, and policy innovation. (Henry)
Congress placed a number of limitations on executives and they did not like being told what they can and cannot do and of course, the executives reacted in the areas of domestic policy. Constrained government affects all of us and when they are constrained then the public anticipates that the government’s hands are tied and are not able to function, voice opinions, push for changes or do things as they want or used to. Since there is nothing that they can do the public shuts down as well and is not as interested in voicing opinions or suggesting changes.
The state administration saw changes as well, there were constitutional modifications to lengthen terms of office for the Governors this strengthened their power in appointments, budgeting, and veto power. Governor appointed state executives were more in sync with legislators and less likely to be influenced by special interest and lobbyist. Two more changes that were made were no term limits for elected state administrators and the permission to recall governors and other state officials by special election. This is another executive constraint and along with referendum and initiative, these three are components of direct democracy that are still in place. These three mechanisms allow the people to keep the governments more responsive to their needs. ,
The public’s perception of government and bureaucracy are not one in the same. 70% of American have a positive opinion of government workers. They are not to blame for disappointments, it is the elected officials that the public holds responsible for inefficiencies. Bureaucrats deliver, they are helpful, efficient, fair, and courteous when dealing with the public. (Henry) Public administrators acting more business-like and having a professional milieu provides better opportunities for control. Public Administrators roles are just as important as elected officials in policymaking at the state level. The state legislature has close to 30,000 full-time staffers and even more when the legislature is in session. These staffers are just as powerful as the staffers in Congress. Policymaking in a local administration mainly resides with the city and town managers. Their policy role occupies about one-third of their time and almost all of them continually participate in the formation of policy, initiating proposals, and creating the council agenda. The more policy-making leadership they conduct the less time they spend with administrative duties. Bureaucratic power has grown and where knowledge is power, this can have an effect on government as well, not so much in the lower levels of government but all can use this knowledge to influence or assist the powerful.
In the second chapter, we start to look at the functions of government. Politics which has to do with policies or terms of the states and administration which has to do with the execution of the policies. The thought of public administration as a career was not even imaginable but in 1914 the American Political Science Association specifies that political science’s main objective was to educate and prepare professionals for governmental positions. This later led to a graduate program in public administration at the University of Michigan and the program was under their political science department. By the twentieth century, public administration was a mainstay. The point was made in the 1st paradigm that elected officials and appointed administrators did different things and was named the politics/administration dichotomy. (Henry) The 2nd Paradigm pushes the question why did the dichotomy die? There were an internal shift and external shift that questioned the politics/administration dichotomy. One internal finding was that public administrators and politicians both could create public policy, so are they were alike? The second was external and it was hard to avoid the “political” stereotype of corruption in politics so in 1950 the politics/public administration dichotomy was abandoned. So this put forth a question about political science and public administration do they belong together or should they be separate? Paradigm 3 goes back and re-establishes the link between public administration and political science. The was public administration was losing interest in public administration in academics and general interest. Political scientists who identified public administration as their major field of study dropped from 35% to 12%. Political science had no bite, political science objective was to educates intellectualized understanding while public administration educates for knowledgeable action, (Henry) In the 4th paradigm public administration takes a look at management. This brought back what Woodrow Wilson had stated in his essay in 1887 which stated that “the field of administration is a field of business”. (Henry) The findings point out that there are many discrepancies between government and business people. It is hard for public administrators to go into the business world because of the vast differences and a successful businessman will have difficulty in public administration because of the difference in the private and public sectors. The realization finally set in and they both realized that neither one of the two would keep their interest. Paradigm 5 sets out to prove that public administration does not need any other supporting field, that it can stand alone. All of the others that were suggestively needed to be combined with public administration (management, law, and political science) The fact that academic programs kept trying to establish public administration degree and other related programs as an essential program of study since the 1950’s and in 1970 when the NASPAA was founded that public administration could stand alone and survive. Since then 160 related programs have been recognized as prestigious and have attracted many faculty and students to the field. In the fifth paradigm, it also resurrects the politics/public administration dichotomy but with a twist. It is not a division but rather a field that can be taken seriously and is understandable and functional. The last paradigm takes a look at the changes in government and moving away from the government of control and top-down power of control to the governance that is still official but also networked. Not just networked with those outside of government agencies but also within and across different agencies. They will work if there is trust, collaboration, cooperation, and leadership. The example of what was done to control gangs was a great example of governance and networking. You take all the departments that are needed (police, prosecutors, social workers, clergy, the gangs and former gang members, etc.) to influence and convince gang members that they can trust you and that you are there for them to assist them and help address the problem together. There is more power in many than that in one. Public administration can now stand alone as a field of study and it can help implement change through intelligence and networking. Public governance shares the power and decision making with public, private and nonprofit organizations and has had positive results. Public governance can help corporate governance improve is areas like manager compensation and division of power just to name a few.
Finally, public administration has a smile.
“Primary Documents in American History.” Judiciary Act of 1789: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress), The Library of Congress >> Researchers , 25 Apr. 2017, www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/judiciary.html.
Henry, N. (2013). Public Administration and Public Affairs (12th ed.). Pearson.