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Top 10 Reasons for a Job as a Public Administrator

By Shami Dugal

Here are the top 10 reasons why someone might become a public administrator. Starting with number ten! 

top10

10. Make mom proud….My son, the public administrator.

9. Wear sandals to work.

8. How hard can policy development be?

7. Public administration work is like the weather, if you don’t like, give it some time and it will change.

6. Become a professional meeting attender.

5. Join a union.

4. Jobs cannot be outsourced.

3. Benefits, benefits, benefits.

2. Love those lobbyists.

And finally,

1. Politicians come and go, public administrators are forever. (Laughter dies down…..)

Before he was elected president, Woodrow Wilson published an essay entitled “The Study of Administration” in the July 1887 Political Science Quarterly. The essence of this paper was to draw a sharp distinction between the business of politics and administration and to add a level of professionalism to bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy was in fact a noble institution with positive connotations and intentions as it was envisaged, and the purpose was to govern efficiently and cost effectively. We daresay that Woodrow Wilson thought of administration as incorporating scientific methods in its approach to governance.

Certainly, this is not the case today. The government administrative body is considered anything but lean and efficient and it is intertwined with politics. For the country to get back on track, it must attract individuals who are willing to separate themselves from their political masters and perform their duties based on the principles and requirements of the organizations in which they serve.

They must also stay up to date with global trends, practices, technologies and methods which in fact may shrink the government and permit efficient and cost effective approaches to their work. For this to occur, the position of chief administrative officer (CAO) of public sector organizations up to the highest position of the country must be independent of political patronage, pressures and deal with the management and delivery of services much as a chief operating officer does in a private sector organization.

The public administration staff under this mantle of leadership of the CAO must be held to standards that have more to do with ability to professionally manage and carry out their responsibilities in a systematic way which are measurable and establish accountability. It goes without saying that such positions deserve compensation which is consistent with the private sector so that the public administration positions are not considered second rate.

For this to occur, the bloated levels of government must be trimmed so that true policy and administrative positions can be well funded. This in turn means that the administrative arm must stay separate from the political arm, as it was originally envisaged.

There is one additional aspect to public administration and that is a social component that does not necessarily exist in private sector organizations. Individuals are often attracted to the not for profit and public sectors because of philanthropic reasons. These organizations and positions permit them to accomplish social good as an integral component of their jobs without sacrificing the ability to make a living. Often individuals work in the private sector for decades and then turn to philanthropy once they have amassed wealth. In the former case, one lives a life of public good while the latter the desire may be to leave a legacy.

The top ten reasons for becoming a public administrator should be:

Starting with number ten!

10. Make mom proud….My son, the public administrator.

9. Meaningful jobs.

8. Developing good policies.

7. Managing public funds effectively.

6. Bringing efficient methods to the profession.

5. Caring about delivery.

4. Staying on top of global trends.

3. Continuing education.

2. Enriched work life, experiencing different public organizations .

And finally,

1. Making a difference!

 

Author: Shami Dugal is a member of ASPA and on the SHHSA Board. He has bachelor’s degree in operations research from University of Waterloo (Canada) and a master of public administration from Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa). He is an engagement leader for Netsmart (www.ntst.com), which helps health and human services organizations transform care through the collaborative, coordinated management and exchange of clinical data across the care spectrum and through effective practice management that improves revenue cycle management.  

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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