Public Administration

Public administration dates back to antiquity, when the Pharaohs of Egypt, kings and emperors needed people such as treasurers and tax collectors to administer the practical work of the government. In the modern era, public administrators constitute a relatively high percentage of the workforce in most developed countries. Public sector organizations represent the largest single employers in many towns and cities.

The term public administration describes both a field of study and an occupation. It is largely viewed as a sub-field to the disciplines of administrative science and political science or analysis. It may also relate to other academic disciplines such as economics or management theory.As a discipline public administration focuses on the creation and maintenance of policy by members of public agencies, governments and public sector employees. It also examines the way that the authoritative decisions these people have made are being implemented. A public body is set up and sustained by the constitution or authoritative governments of a nation or nations. Public administrators pay special attention to how far public policy makers actually can govern and can achieve changes that are close to the planned results. Public administration involves a lot of large interconnected organizations and institutions. Those require huge financial and human resources to keep a basic framework for sustaining reasonable living standards for large populations. The individuals who are part of this system and who manage the structures of public administration are rather important.

The structure of public administration differs in every nation and in every city. In the United Kingdom, for example, public administration is realized through a range of state agencies with different functions and patterns of control and accountability. Among these are the civil service, answerable to central government; local government, at borough and county level; the administering of the National Health Service (NHS); and a diverse range of organizations that are in charge of a miscellany of administrative, consultative, advisory and regulatory roles. The latter groups are known by the acronym "quango". There is also a complex of tribunals, inquiries, an ombudsman system as well as the judiciary system in Britain.

In terms of structure and branches public administration once again has many faces. As an academic discipline it consists of several sub-fields. One of the proposed structures includes several main branches: human resource management, organizational theory in public administration, ethics in public administration, public budgeting and policy analysis and statistics. Human resource management (HRM) represents a structure within an organization that deals with the recruitment, management and direction of the people that are part of an organization. HRM seeks to ensure that employees contribute effectively and productively to reach the targets and objectives of the organization. Among this structure's major goals is unbiased, ethical and values-based public service staffing. The human resource system includes employee health care, employee benefits, compensations, performance management, employee motivation, training and others.

Public budgeting is there to ensure that there are enough resources needed to wage war, maintain streets or provide housing. The public budget shows how governments spend the available money and how they prioritize among unlimited needs. Public budgeting seeks to prevent overspending and ensure financial balance within an organization.

Policy analysis is a term that combines in it the ways in which policies are made and the ways in which they should be organized. Its prescriptive aspect, which focuses on how they should be done, is considered more important. Its key aim is to enhance the policy process and the policies themselves. Policy analysis features a number of stages including issue definition, forecasting, the setting of priorities and objectives, options analysis, evaluation and review and a few more.

Statistics is also an important pillar for public administration. When one is in charge of a group of people within an organization, he or she needs a tool to track progress and the lack of it. In general statistics deals with the collection, organization and interpretation of data in a drive to get an overall picture of a group.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Public Administration: Traditions of Inquiry and Philosophies of Knowledge
Norma M. Riccucci.
Georgetown University Press, 2010
The Collaborative Public Manager
Rosemary O'Leary; Lisa Blomgren Bingham.
Georgetown University Press, 2008
Democratic Governance
Mark Bevir.
Princeton University Press, 2010
Librarian’s tip: Part III "Public Administration"
Public Administration: Balancing Power and Accountability
Jerome B. McKinney; Lawrence C. Howard.
Praeger, 1998 (2nd edition)
Defining Public Administration: Selections from the International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration
Jay M. Shafritz.
Westview Press, 2000
Understanding and Managing Public Organizations
Hal G. Rainey.
Jossey-Bass, 2003 (3rd edition)
Mastering Public Administration: From Max Weber to Dwight Waldo
Brian R. Fry.
Chatham House, 1989
The Essential Public Manager
Christopher Pollitt.
Open University Press, 2003
The Effective Public Manager: Achieving Success in a Changing Government
Steven Cohen; William Eimicke.
Jossey-Bass, 2002 (3rd edition)
Public Management & Governance
Tony Bovaird; Elke Löffler.
Routledge, 2003
Research Methods for Public Administrators
Gail Johnson.
Quorum Books, 2002
Public Management as Art, Science, and Profession
Laurence E. Lynn Jr.
Chatham House, 1996
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