RELIABLE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
Government policies and activities are evaluated not only on their contents but also on the actual process involved in these operations. If public trust is to be maintained, government employees must perform their duties in a manner which reflects the basic objectives of the public service itself.
1 Government operations should uphold appropriate standards and regulations.
Public administration relies heavily on public trust. Their plans and methodology must be readily understood by the general public. Government activities should therefore be based on laws and regulations that have been legislated by politicians elected by the people.
With the complexities of the present era, policy making and implementation requires specialist knowledge, flexibility and quick response. It is difficult, however, for the law to stipulate exact details regarding policy programs as the specialist knowledge appropriate to each differs accordingly. It also takes time to legislate these laws and regulations and once in place, they are not easily amended according to changes in the situations they deal with.
In order to provide a fast and appropriate response, government officials must be granted a level of decision making powers. This discretionary authority should be limited to emergency situations where a new phenomenon has arisen unexpectedly and inaction or a lack of response would be extremely damaging to public interests. The basic rule on this is to revise laws and regulations to solve the immediate problem at hand. Even where there is room for discretion, the government should acquire public consent before standards are set.
2 Public Agreement on Public Interests
Government employees should be diligent in their work. If the direction of this work conflicts with public interests, these efforts are merely a waste of resources. In private enterprises this form of waste contributes to a loss in profit. In the public sector, this loss is at the expense of the entire tax paying community.
In reality, however, judging what is or is not in the public interest is relative and sometimes quite difficult. Raising pension benefits, for example, is favorable for the immediate beneficiaries but increases the financial burden on younger generations supporting the pension fund. Constructing a public bypass may benefit those living nearby, but the increase in traffic through this area may result in environmental problems. It is open to debate whether expenditure on the construction of a road such as this is in the public interest or not.
High economic growth has recently come to a halt in most countries. A zero-sum game is now in operation where one person's loss is another person's gain. In circumstances such as these, it is extremely difficult to judge exactly what constitutes public interest. Public understanding is required in deciding if government activities meet with public interest.