Public administration used to deliver services to citizens, now it delivers them to customers. This change illustrates how new thinking has affected those who are engaged in public administration, the politicians who set the frameworks and academics who conceptualise what it is about.
Public administration is big business. One in five people in the UK workforce is involved in public administration. Usually, people who work in Whitehall and town halls are thought of as public administrators, but within their ranks one must also include nurses, teachers, police officers, foresters, coastguards and a host of other people. Their salaries are all paid by the taxpayer.
The first line decisions about public administration are taken by politicians. At the national level, Members of Parliament of the majority party hold positions as Government ministers. As ministers they decide what is to be done and what budgets are to be allocated to doing it. This wish list is then worked on by civil servants in the central departments, such as the Department of Health, who advise what it is possible to do for the money on offer.
This policy development process is very time consuming because it involves getting the views of stakeholders who may be affected by any changes. When major changes are contemplated the Government issues a ‘Green Paper’ as part of the consultation. Responses are analysed and proposals reshaped. Next comes a ‘White Paper’ with the firmed up proposals which will form the basis for new legislation. The resulting Bill to be laid before Parliament contains the legislation necessary to put the ‘White Paper’ proposals into action. The features of the Bill can change with debate in Parliament, but finally the Act of Parliament receives royal assent and becomes law.
Up to this point, public administrators, the civil servants, have played an advisory role. All decisions have been taken by politicians.
Although stakeholder views are sought on all new proposals, a great deal of evidence is gathered to support the decision making process. The clamour for evidenced based policy can be heard world wide. In the UK policies emerging from departments must have an evidence base.
The number of people involved in the process of public administration up to this point is minute. But as the policy is turned into practice the big battalions become involved and they in turn affect vast numbers of people. A new initiative from the Department for Children Schools and Families may involve every classroom teacher in the country, every child and every parent with school aged children.
The public administration process continues at the local level. Central government sets the framework for local government, but within that framework local politicians take decisions about what will be done locally and what budget should be allocated to doing it. Local policies are then implemented by local government officers.
Publicnet carries more than ten years of material about public administration and its impact on customers.
Here are some links for you to follow. If the particular aspect of public administration does not feature in the links below, please use the search facility to track down what you want.
USING EVIDENCE – WHERE HAVE WE GOT TO AND HOW DO WE GO FORWARD?
The clamour for evidenced based policy can be heard world wide. In the UK policies emerging from departments must have an evidence base. The author describes how a better understanding about social programme implementation is having an impact.
CHILD SERVICES HEADS WELCOME HEALTH STRATEGY
Heads of children’s social services have welcomed a new child health strategy as a key milestone towards truly integrated services for children and young people.
CAMPAIGNERS SET OUT HOUSING POLICY HOPES AS NEW AGENCY STARTS WORK
Countryside campaigners have set out their agenda for a new direction in housing policy, including local communities having the chance to identify and meet housing needs.
CALL FOR COUNCILS TO CONTROL LOCAL HEALTH AND POLICE
A local government think tank has begun a consultation process which is designed to refocus public services towards the citizen. It argues for a single commissioning process for all local public services.
REPORT DETAILS GAP BETWEEN POLICY AND PRACTICE ON CARE LEAVERS
Some vulnerable teenagers are leaving care when they are too young and are ending up homeless, unemployed and at risk of developing drug and alcohol problems according to this report published by Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.