Friday, February 21, 2014

New Public Administration - History and Development


In the decade of 1960, in opposition to traditional structures and functions of the Government, the new reformative approach that was adopted is known as New Public Administration which is multi-disciplinary in approach and it places emphasis on public policy.

New Public Administration has following four characteristic features -

a. Value
b. Social Equity
c. Change
d. Relevance

Development of New Public Administration as an approach and concept can be related to the following events -

1. 1967 - The Honey Report

2. 1967 - Philadelphia Conference

3. 1968 - 1st Minnow brook Conference

4. 1971 - New Public Administration : The Minnow brook Perspective

5. Public Administration in the time of turbulence : Dwight Waldo

The United States as a nation state was facing a severe storm during 1960's. It is the age of expansion of Hippy Culture in USA which means excessive and rampant use of drugs, alcohol, narcotics, cocaine, heroine and other intoxicants by the youth and their over indulgence in criminal and nefarious activities. Not only this, black population of America were denied their rights in Civil Services and Public Administration. There was strong racial discrimination at public places. Apartheid was at its peak. Not only this, Chicago had been named as the crime capital of the World. Defeat of USA in Vietnam war had further decimated psychological consciousness of the state. Surrounded by multifarious social, economic and political problems American citizens were disenchanted and had a sense of dejection, anger and agony against the present set of Government and Administration. In the backbone of these developments against the traditional model of Public Administration, new set of structure and functions were conceptualised in the Government which were collectively known as New Public Administration.

Its chronological development can be enumerated as follows -

1. 1967 -  In order to study those prevailing conditions and problems and to suggest remedial measures a Committee was formed under the Chairmanship of John C Sony of Syracuse University which presented its report known as the Honey Report. It identified four major problems -

a. Insufficient resources
b. Arguments over status of Public Administration as a discipline
c. Institutional Weaknesses
d. Gap between scholars and administrators

In the first problem Mr. Honey said that to deal with multiple problems at such a large scale Government does not have sufficient resources hence we need to build and augment more resources as soon as possible.

In the second problem he deplored that still there is a confusion and non clarity on status of Public Administration as an independent and separate discipline. Scholars are giving there own arguments in favour and against hence a regular citizen is not able to understand what Public Administration is. We should end such polemics.

Unless and until status of Public Administration shall not become clear, people should not be able to understand its structural and administrative problems hence it must be treated as a subject and should be taught as a regular discipline in universities and colleges so that people may understand how Government functions, what are its difficulties, which types of challenges Public Administration has to face etc.

Third position was related to structural and functional bottlenecks that is the way Government departments used to perform its functions at that time. They were all incoherent, lack of coordination and inconsistency of approach. Hence he urged to revamp and strengthen the prevalent Public Administration.

Fourth problem was more academic than prevalent. Intellectuals who are power behind the punch in fact formulates all policy and programmes but they are not given there due credit and honour. Instead administrator gets all accolades, power, prestige, privilege. Hence there is a huge deficit of trust for scholars and administrators for each other.

Honey report further made important recommendations which if followed, than not only the prevailing problems of the then America would be resolved but America would also rise as a force to reckon with.

These recommendations are -

a. National Public Service Commission on education should be constituted to ensure better quality of teaching and better quality of teachers.

b. Fellowship programs should be started for Master of Arts and P.H.D. students in Public Administration.

c. Intern-ship must be conducted for all Government employees at local, state and federal level.

d. Separate financial assistance and fellowship programmes should be launched for teachers of Public Administration.

e. Wherever possible for resource generation and other assistance, cooperation must be taken from private sector, business houses and industries.

f. A new advisory services should be formulated at the public service level.

g. More researches and case studies should be conducted on problems related to Public Administration.

After presentation of Honey report, a conference was organised by Department of Political Science, University of Philadelphia which was presided over by James Charlesworth. American academy of Political and Social Science was the organiser of this social conference and its theme was Theory and Practise of Public Administration.

Unfortunately the conference was divided into 2 ideological camps during the course of discussion and deliberation.

One was led by young radical scholars and the other was led by seasoned and moderate scholars.

The young scholars boycotted Philadelphia Conference as they wanted revolution and overall change in the present system of Public Administration whereas old scholars insisted for slow and gradual reforms otherwise it will lead to anarchy and chaos. In the history of human civilization it has been observed many times that only after the process of thesis & antithesis, synthesis is evolved.

Birth of a great idea or an individual, it has to undergo the process of labour pain. In freedom movement of India also, one group was led by moderates who believed in the policy of peace, pray and protest whereas the other group was led by extremists who believed in the policy of violence, force and coercion. Gandhiji successfully managed to make the confluence of two opposite views and therefore was able to give a process of middle path.

First Minnow brook Conference - 1968

In order to protest against discourses at Philadelphia Conference young scholars organised another conference at Minnow brook in 1968 under the bright Chairmanship of Dwight Waldo. Apart from the general unrest that was seen in American society those days to get rid of those conditions, these young scholars wanted radical and overall change in the structures and functions of Public Administration. They propounded a concept of New Public Administration which had four objectives -

1. Social Equity 2. Value 3. Change 4. Relevance

Social Equity - According to New Public Administration, the realisation of social equity should be the objective of public administration. Social equity means that public administrators should become champions of the under-privileged sections of the society. They should use their discretion in administering the programmes to protect and promote the interests of the poor.

Value - The New Public Administration rejects the value-neutral stand by the management oriented public administration. It makes clear its basic normative concern in administrative studies. It advocates openness about the values being served through administrative action.

Relevance - The New Public Administration points out that public administration has traditionally been interested in efficiency and economy. It stresses that the discipline had little to say about contemporary problems and issues and was therefore becoming irrelevant. It demands meaningful study oriented towards the realities of social life.

Change - The New Public Administration emphasizes that the public officials should become active agents of social change and non believers in status-quo. It does not allow enslavement to permanent institutions which become self-perpetuating power centres of dominant class. It suggests innovations in administrative machinery for bringing about social transformation.

Minnow Brook conference says that discrimination between have and have-nots should be ended in order to reach equality and equity and to achieve this, administration must have certain values of ethics, integrity and honesty and hence such plans, policy and programs should be prepared which are relevant according to the needs of the time then only the desired change can take place. Hence the focus of New Public Administration was changed to equity, change and value. From then onwards, after every 20 years, conference is organised at Minnow Brook so as to compare and analyse achievements and failures of last 20 years. After the first Minnow Brook conference in 1968, the second and third Minnow Brook Conferences took place in 1988 and 2008. The most basic difference between the three Minnow Brook Conferences was that the first one was held in the atmosphere of unrest and anger against the Government, the second one was held when United States of America had already established itself as the economic and military superpower of the World, the third Minnow Brook conference was held when recession of 2009 was going to strike at the doors of America. In fact it was the start of sub prime crises. From 1968-2008 there have been phenomenal changes that have taken place in Global Public Administration.

For Instance -

1. Collapse of ex-USSR.
2. End of communist ideology.
3. Emergence of European Union.
4. Union of East and West Germany.
5. Rise of free and open market economy.
6. Emergence of Global terrorism. 

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