Public administration is a distinct field of administration, which is very important for the success of any government. This peculiarity arises out of the fact that public administration is an action part of government, the means by which the purposes and goals of government are realized. Specific issues to be covered here are: absorption of the work of government, meeting the challenges of government activities, implementation of government decisions, detaching of political activities from administrative work, negotiation, conciliation and arbitration and communication.
It is intended that by the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- Explain how public administration absorbs the bulk of work of government that covers various aspects of the society’ life.
- Discuss the role of public administration in meeting the challenges of continuous growth in size and complexity of
- Government activities State how administration implement government decisions
- Describe how public administration detaches political activities from administrative work
- Explain how public administration negotiate, conciliate and arbitrate conflicting interests in the society.
- Mention the importance of communication in public administration
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 Absorbing the work of governments
One of the identified importance of Public Administration is its ability to absorb the work of governments. There is noticeable increase in the activities of government all over the world. They deal with:
- Foreign governments at the same time as they must oversee internal and external trade.
- The industrial and agricultural growth of the country; this involves embarking on measures that will create a conducive environment for both foreign and local investors
- The health of the population by establishing specialists and general hospitals as well as clinics for tertiary, secondary and primary health care delivery and maintenance of facilities therein
- Educational development through setting up of primary, secondary, and tertiary as well as Universities across the nation, most significant is also the servicing of these institutions.
- Provision of power: governments across the world have a demanding task of power generation which is the life wire of all the economic and social activities
- Defense: the task of ensuring both internal and external security remains one of the topmost activities of government, security challenges have increased over the years
- Management of finance: aware of the vast needs of the public and the lean resources always at the disposal of governments, governments have the responsibilities of employing effective measures for management of state resources
- Encouragement of development in science and technology: governments embark on measures aimed at encouraging scientific and technological innovations
- Promotion of sporting activities: Various sporting activities are encouraged by the government to keep her citizens healthy and entertain the populace (Nnoli, 2003)
It is not possible for a few ministers, chief executive and his political advisers, the legislator and the judges and magistrates who make up the three arms of government to be able to do all these. Even if they have the competence, they do not have enough time and energy to take care of all these activities within the time necessary to satisfy the population. They need the additional hands found in the civil service or public administration.
Self Assessment Exercise 3.1
Explain five areas in which public administration assists in running the government?
3.2 Meeting the challenges of Government activities
Government activities have not only grown in size, they have also grown in complexity. And such a complexity demands different kinds of expertise for various activities. Therefore, even if individuals in government have the time and energy to carry out all their functions they will not have among themselves alone the necessary expertise to go round their specialized activities. Thus.they need the variety of experts found in the public administration such as:
- Teachers for managing educational institutions and impacting knowledge into students and pupil in such institutions
- Doctors whose responsibilities are to save lives through preventive and curative measures using the equipments in the
- hospitals and clinics established by the government Industrialists for sustaining the industries established
- Accountants, whose task is to keep proper records of financial dealings of governments in addition to working out strategies of generating revenue for financing the activities of government
- Engineers that invent, operate and maintain equipments and machines procured to serve various purposes in all departments of government
- Soldiers whose responsibility is to maintain both internal and external security etc.
Members of government do not know everything; and they do notnecessarily know more than everybody in their own area of expertise. They need the help of experts and better minds.
Self Assessment Exercise 3.2
Discuss five key areas through which public administration help in meeting up with the challenges of continuous growth in size and complexity of government activities?
3.4 Detaching political activities from administrative work
Those in government are usually politicians who have proved themselves as experts in the manipulation of political forces.
- Yet they have constantly to respond to political pressures in their effort to remain in power.
- To fend off the challenges of political rivals.
- Reward political friends.
- Form new alliances and consolidate existing ones.
Under these conditions they need to be assisted by others who will emphasize the management of natural and other non – political resources, and ensure that the government’s management of the
political resources does not severely damage the management of these other resources. Public administration enables the government to manage its non – political resources and activities, an area in which the politician is in any case less technically qualified, leaving him/her free to attend to
his/her expert profession of political manipulation and intrigue, and to be rest assured that his/her socio – economic programs that are often crucial for his political survival will not suffer.
Self Assessment Exercise 3.4
Describe how public administration detaches political activities from administrative functions.
3.5 Negotiation, Conciliation, and Arbitration
For a government to protect persons and property against violence, to collect taxes, and control traffic and health hazards, it must make regulations. In order to settle disputes between parties, it must
conciliate and negotiate. In order to arrive at a just decision when faced with conflicting demands from opposing interests and functions in the community, a government must be continually engaged in balancing. This balancing involves consultations, negotiation, and compromise. Then, of course, there is the equally important obligation on the part of a government to provide services.
From the foregoing, one can see certain uses and process from the bedrock of the responsibilities of a government. These include
performance of these roles there must be prior planning, and gathering of information and data. It will also be necessary to hold consultations with representatives of sectional groups and to reconcile conflicting interests and points of view. All these tasks rest on public administration. It is after these essential preliminaries have been carried out that rules and regulations, and directives are issued
Self Assessment Exercise 3.5
Explain the importance of public administration in resolving the conflicting interest of groups and individuals in a nation.
In public service, administrative officials perform a considerable portion of their task through communication which could either be in oral or in written forms. One of the hallmarks of an administrator is to develop the habit of communication by discussion – telephone
discussion, meetings and conferences, interviews with members of the public and clients of the department. A good deal is achieved through face – to – face discussion.
In spite of the obvious advantages of oral communication and personal contact, it is inevitable that senior officials have to communicate frequently through the written word. They have to
write minutes in files, prepare memoranda and draft speeches for their chief executives – the President, Governor, Ministers, State Commissioners, and Chairmen of statutory bodies and agencies.
- Minutes are views, opinions, advice, information, or directives expressed in writing during the course of day – to –day work in the office. They are usually enclosed in paper jackets known as files. Each file bears a reference number by which it is easily identified. For the purpose of tidyarrangement and easy reference, each file is devoted to a single specific subject.
- The decision to prepare the memorandum in a department may originate directly from the Minister/ Commissioners who are the political heads of departments or the permanent secretary. A matter may have been subject of consideration in the department and on which the Minister and his officials have exchanged minutes in the file, each one expressing his own views as a result of the data and information assemble on the issue. Matters may reach a stage at which the Minister is convinced that it is necessary to consult, inform or seek approval of the Executive Council. At this stage, the Minister will direct his permanent secretary to prepare a memo. Alternatively, the process may be the reverse. The Permanent Secretary and his subordinates may have been examining a particular issue through the exchange of minutes in the file. A point may be reached at which an important issue of policy calls for determination and as he may prepare a memo.
- Public officials in the civil service, in the universities, local government service, statutory corporations, etc. very often have to write speeches for their chief executives. The chief executive may be the President of the nation, the Governor of a state, the Vice Chancellor of a University, a Minister of State, a State Commissioner or the Chairman of a statutory corporation or any governmental agency.
Self – Assessment Exercise 3.6
Mention the procedures through which senior officials communicate through written communication in an organization.
It has been ascertained that public administration is the hub through which social, political and economic development takes place within a state. Indications are apt that through professionalism,
administrative duties lean more towards national interest than
individual interest. Textbooks are the main source for the exercise; ideas from various scholars have been employed.
This unit dealt with the importance of public administration. An important role of public administration is sustaining government’s work. Some of the areas highlighted in this unit include; meeting the challenges of continuous growth in size and complexity of government activities; implementation of government decisions; negotiation, conciliation and arbitration; and detaching political activities from administrative work.
6.0 TUTOR – MARKED ASSIGNMENTS
- Explain how public administration supports government activities.
- Discuss the ways through which public administration meet the challenges of continuous growth in size and complexity of governments activities
- Describe the procedure through which public administration detach political activities from administrative duties.