Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Public Service: The Modern Rejection of Inequality

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

By Lisa Saye
May 15, 2023

        @Nguzo za Huduma, 2023, Photo and Title by Lisa Saye

Public service is a branch of democracy. It is democracy’s most prominent language and that language is universal. Public service is a co-created community of citizens and other citizens in administrative positions. It is assigned in the tasks the public administrator performs. Public service is the challenge that nature, compassion, equality and justice call us to perfect and perfect. On the whole, public service helps to regenerate what societal conditions and other mistakes have mangled and distorted. Its platform is public administration and its communication is collaboration.

Today’s colleges and universities often have a subarea of government called public service, but public service is more than just an academic discipline. It is the text and subtext of service to others. We know that text is important and that its narrative extends beyond our comfortable circles of family and friends. But subtext is important as well. Subtext gathers the texts of the past and leads by building a foundation of truths and hard truths. We err when we ignore the messages in subtexts.

Public service is as old as myth. It predates writing and is connected to the need to identify and organize the shared core elements of a community. Recently, the world witnessed the coronation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom. As part of his oath, he dedicated himself to the service of others. One may say that he had to say as much. But don’t we want to believe that power cares? Aren’t we willing to embrace the romantic notion that an election, an appointment or a coronation promises to citizens? Certainly. It is an interesting commentary and one that has some of its origins in what we witnessed during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. But we know that the promises which we can truly count on are the ones we make to ourselves. Service’s design model comes from all of us.

For the citizen, public administration is a collection of one-on-one experiences with government, specifically with public administrators. Taken collectively, these experiences form a narrative about performance and become the reality of how good or how bad government is doing. This performance becomes part of the description of optimization that the government can use to improve services, add or delete services or use when seeking collaboration with private industry. What this means is that while public service may be old, it is still human. Being human is its consistent and continuous legacy. Even the AI that government websites use for applications, questions or comments is designed by humans, tested by humans and monitored by humans. Like democracy, public service has a treaty with humanity. That treaty drifts somewhere between myth and metaphor and is as unique as a 12-string guitar, but unique nonetheless.

Public service makes sense of the noisy controversies embedded in historical narratives of policies and politics because public service is the modern rejection of inequality. Public service is part of the correspondence of opportunity that helps to bring members of society back from a temporary or prolonged misfortune. But, what if societal conditions and subtexts of the past have eroded the infrastructure for the delivery of public goods? Is public service the best way to address and redress the needs of the citizens under these circumstances? To answer those questions we may need another more realistic subarea of government that is qualitatively different from businesses or enterprises that measure success through profit and loss. We can do it. We are up to the task.

Lately it seems that our days and nights are weighed with worry and anxiety. This is not an indictment of the present and it is certainly not a prediction for the future. It is simply an observation on the collective condition related to our external environments. Policy is one means we can use to lift some burdens, but we must commit to do the rest for ourselves. When policy becomes lost in unsupported assumptions or otherwise, public administration clears up the dysfunction and confusion. The budget, program expenditures, taxes, municipal revenue and whatever you may call it are a few of the ways and means we use to deliver the best and most cost efficient public administration.

The past has a meaningful place in the present as a historical example of lessons learned. In those lessons are subtexts. Whether we like it or not, subtext is loud. It should be. There are new rolls to call and public service is the structural response needed to do so. Working for others is more than an expression. It is the changeless reason we sketch, draw or design systems to disseminate policy goals and objectives for those we have pledged to serve.

The @Nguzo za Huduma 2023 image was taken and titled by Lisa Saye.

Author: Dr. Lisa Saye is Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Free WheelChair Mission in Irvine, California. She served as Fulbright Specialist in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and as International Consultant for the United Nations Development Program in The Maldives. She served as Chair of the Division of Social Sciences and Humanities and as Associate Professor of Public Administration at American University Afghanistan. Dr. Saye can be reached by email at [email protected].

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *