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An ASPA Membership Address: What Would YOU Say?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Marvin N. Pichla
August 22, 2022

American government and politics have changed. It is impossible…yes I said impossible, to compare events and priorities that have eventuated over the last 10-20 years to any time previously. Yes, it is true that every decade and it’s leaders have had tough issues and unique challenges, however recent years have placed more focus on the need for quality public service than maybe ever before!

With these thoughts in mind, I believe it is timely to prepare this article using An ASPA Membership Address (What Would YOU Say?) format. Think about it. What points would you feel necessary to discuss if you were invited to comprehensively address the entire ASPA membership! National and international members, students studying to pursue a career in public service and the bulk of ASPA members working in multiple public service jobs across our nation would all be part of your audience.

So What Would YOU Say?

I believe I would start by recommending that all ASPA members strive to be “unintentional” public administration educators. Local citizens are often weak or misinformed about the different areas of public service functioning around them. These information voids may be in the areas of safety, land use, education, food production and the list goes on. The result is poor voting practices and potential mis-use of public dollars.

If ASPA members assumed at least a partial role in the common pursuit of better informing citizens about the workings of public administrations, it would lessen the negative impacts of shared inaccurate public service information. This ASPA address topic does not suggest that members must become teachers or “all knowing” public administration experts. Instead, if public administrators simply assumed a meaningful role to raise the knowledge level of individuals on their area of public responsibility, citizen governmental competency would grow at a faster pace.

Another ASPA membership address point I would discuss would be to support the reduction of political party “labeling” in regular news sharing. For example, I would recommend news outlets just report that: “This quote comes from the Governor of New York”… instead of saying the Republican or Democratic Governor of New York! Isn’t it intended that if someone seeks and wins an election… that they become EVERYONE’S President, Senator, House Representative, Mayor, etc. Unfortunately the use of political party labeling is in almost every public publication or newscast and the result is a typical positive or negative listening level dependent on party affiliation.

This corrective action obviously would/could not be made by ASPA member actions alone. However, those employed or involved in improving public administration practices everywhere may be in a positive position to promote appropriate legislative action!

A third area I would discuss in my customized address to all ASPA members would be building the importance of inclusion of the voting public to create a higher level of compromise and consensus building in areas of service to the public. Public administration, for logical reasons, is a part of every citizen’s personal and work life! Whether you are a restaurant owner, nurse, teacher, farmer, data analyst…government and politics has an impact on you. Therefore, it is critical to continually retain an open door of personal inclusion at all levels of public administration. Compromise and consensus are and always will be high value factors in maintaining a productive society. And only through a creative policy for maximizing citizen inclusion will the greatest level of compromise and consensus benefit be realized.

My fourth and final progress issue I would suggest in An ASPA Membership Address would be to prioritize making politics progressively positive. Yes, I can hear the giggles and gasps that making this “change proclamation” would generate. However, given the political extremeness that we now experience on a daily basis all across our county and at every level of public service, raising this issue is an “are we American leaders in our field” responsibility.

Without question, this recommendation for public administration professional development (prioritize making politics progressively positive) would be the most difficult challenge going forward. First Amendment freedoms, the openness of social media and questionable political practices heightened over the last years make “politics-going-positive” an almost joke provoking suggestion. But who’s job is it to promote and be an example of improvement in this area?

Becoming THE example of introducing, promoting and practicing a positive politics public administration operational policy would be a great first step. Given ASPA’s bedrock status as a solid leader in the fields of government and politics, it would seem appropriate for our system to lead this system improvement initiative.

My An ASPA Membership Address conclusion would first restate my four major public administration improvement initiatives:

  • Strive To Be “Unintentional” Public Administration Educators
  • Support The Reduction of Political Party Labeling
  • Build The Importance of Inclusion of the Voting Public
  • Prioritize Making Politics Progressively Positive

Finally, I would request everyone draft their own Address and consider their priorities. Because only by thinking progressively together…will together action begin.

Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D., is the owner and creative adviser of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. Sharing his unique entrepreneurship and innovation in public service experience, Marv consults with public and private business, education and community organizations to develop new and different problem-solving methods through real-life, example-based learning.

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