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Public Administration in Rural America

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

By Marvin N. Pichla
February 21, 2022

In today’s world, one could accumulate a long list of issues in response to being asked: “What’s wrong with our government and the public administration system in our country?” Consider the times, divisions, political parties, international impacts, ever-present race issues and/or the growing social media influences on who we are and what we do. Then, let your mind wander in regard to the variety of issues and passions that are felt towards each, as citizens ponder this question of “what’s wrong?”!

One could assume that the majority of the issues identified would be those that citizens believe our government and public administrative systems have caused due to poor leadership and decision-making. However, in order to avoid these negative assumptions, the focus of this article: Public Administration In Rural America will examine governmentally challenged areas that are historic to our country’s rural areas. With the goal of progress through understandability in mind, this discussion will look at what these areas are, and how we can effectively address them.

First, let’s start by addressing the fact that in rural America, those in the 60+ age bracket are most often our local public leaders. Typically this age group is less likely to have a full time job and thereby can afford the time to serve in a part-time public role. At first glance this may sound ideal… but consider today’s public service decision-making demands. For example, could those from this age group futuristically address the difficult decisions that require large techno-investments of public time and money?

In following this same high-tech priority challenge, could those 60+ have strategized about working from home… learning from home… and/or adjust to all of the online business fluctuations that continue to expand? Unfortunately, based on general observational research, the older generation standardly embraces a maintenance-of-effort form of public sector governance and controlled innovation. The result is entrenched public services that have a limited future of operation, usage and long-term availability.

Another Public Administration In Rural America area of concern is the number of citizens who serve on boards, councils, commissions and other governmental entities that have limited education credentials. These individuals are great U.S. citizens but are in decision-making roles that impact millions of public dollars that carry volumes of regulatory documents. How do we take solid steps in system development to ensure that those at the grassroots-level have the ability to envision evolving public administration challenges facing rural America in the year 2025 and beyond?

It is the mission of progressive public administrators to recognize weaknesses confronting our system. Additionally, it is our equal responsibility to propose options for improvement. Hence, today we need to re-appreciate our Public Administration In Rural America “roots” given our long-standing traditions regarding candidate selection and consider ways to address new age public servant knowledge, experience and leadership advancement gaps.

The response to strengthening the decision-making capacities for aged leaders and thereby improving Public Administration In Rural America is a citizen sensitive and regionally specific assignment. U.S. citizens have the right to vote for and elect anyone they feel is the best candidate. However, we as co-citizen investors in our country need to create and introduce solid systemic action that will level the critical knowledge playing field, so to speak. By improving access to modern public service initiatives, information and guidance by rural public administration decision-makers, we will ensure all levels of governmental leadership achieve qualified advancements.

Having identified a primary Public Administration In Rural America leadership improvement target, what innovative actions could be introduced to respond to this issue? Initially, think about the potential of building an online Public Administration In Rural America encyclopedia. This encyclopedia series could contain cross-country examples of new-age personnel policies, public programs/services, infrastructure projects, board/council/committee designs, budgeting strategies and more. It is assumed that such information regarding public responsibility exists, but not in a comprehensive, understandable format. What if a group of universities were recruited to engage their political science and public administration students to assemble the encyclopedia series as an ongoing course project? This type of continuous and collaborative public administration improvement project would serve as a wonderful example for the whole country.

Likewise, it may be strategic to utilize the automobile industries supply chain as a problem-solving visual to make such Public Administration In Rural America initiatives common. The use of a supply chain format to visualize progress steps, involved entities, timeframes and final goal attainment, may be a simple solution to improve the specific knowledge required for great public sector decision-making.

Going forward we need to embrace all new-age tools and development options. The continuing advancement of technology makes the creation of a Public Administration In Rural America encyclopedia a real possibility. Likewise, utilizing our higher education partners to mobilize public administration students to assist in building this opportunity is the ultimate win-win situation. Employing new ideas to solve old problems is just good public policy. Whether it’s building a customized public initiative encyclopedia, or displaying projects in a supply chain format, using new innovations to grow all decision-makers in the public sector is critical.


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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