Public Administration and the Public Interest

Public Administration and the Public Interest

Public Administration and the Public Interest

Public Administration and the Public Interest

Excerpt

Under democracy the public interest is based not upon the welfare of one class but upon a compounding of many group interests. We assume the possibility of achieving a balance of forces, social and economic. Whether this process becomes anything more than political jugglery depends upon the standards of justice that are accorded general acceptance by the community. Will social responsibility and loyalty to the democratic process outweigh opportunism and immediate self-interest? Intrinsically this is a question for statesmen, but officials can affect in some measure the turning of the scales.

The administrative branch of the government cannot maintain a balance in a dynamic society but it can do much toward clarifying and effectuating the purposes declared by our legislators. The caliber of our officials and the efficiency of their organization will largely determine the successful application of those policies designed to promote the general welfare. An able administrative service has much to offer. If the state is to carry its increasing burdens, the potentialities of officialdom must be realized to the utmost.

This book is offered as an inquiry into the functioning of our federal administrative machinery. The writer has spent many hours talking with officials in various bureaus and departments. He hopes to repay their courtesy at least in part by indicating some of the problems they encounter in actually applying the law. A better understanding of administration may be gained by noting the difficulties of federal officials in dealing with politicians and special interest organizations. This study attempts to analyze the relations between pressure groups and officials and to survey various efforts being made to adjust our bureaucracy to its heavy responsibilities. In this investigation one is tempted to ponder a theory as well as disclose a process. The evidence offered in this book suggests the question: what next? Upon what theory shall we proceed? What assumptions shall guide governmental action?

Economic laissez faire is gone; political laissez faire is passing. The government is undertaking the care of groups that are eco-

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