The Politics of the Administrative Process

The Politics of the Administrative Process

The Politics of the Administrative Process

The Politics of the Administrative Process

Synopsis

Fesler and Kettl discuss administrative responsibility within the American constitutional system, addressing such issues as big government, bureaucracy, administrative discretion, public budgeting, and the modeling of public administration on business practice. Their analysis includes the central problem of assuring bureaucratic accountability for the faithful execution of the laws, responsiveness to the public will, and ethical behavior by public administrators.

Excerpt

Our subject is large, complex, and important. It embraces a significant part of government in action. So pervasive has government's role in society become and so much of government is administrative that some see the arrival of "the administrative state." Some fear the bureaucratization of our lives as a consequence of the many ways in which we encounter administrative constraints and even beneficial programs wrapped in administrative red tape. Some plead for "businesslike" public administration and doubt that public administration and private administration are, or should be, different in character. If they are different, and we think they are, then we face the problem of how to study public administration. Because both its central features and ways of studying it are variously perceived, we set forth a smorgasbord from which readers may make choices. Though the aspects of our subject are many and the approaches to its study vary, one issue remains dominant: administrative responsibility within the American constitutional system. If that issue is resolved satisfactorily, the issues about big government, bureaucracy, administrative discretion, and modeling of public administration on business practice will lend themselves to more accurate analysis than now prevails in public debate.

An "Administrative State"?

The marked increase in what citizens demand of government has led to a multiplicity of administrative agencies, a large number of civil servants, and swelling governmental budgets to pay for what citizens want and for the administrative work by which such expectations are met. This has brought us, it is said, into a new era, one characterized by "the administrative state." The term is meant to emphasize bigness and to suggest that administrators now exercise so much discretion that constitutional arrangements have been disrupted.

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