Issues and Dilemmas of Contemporary Public Administration

Public Interest, Administrative Responsibility and Some of the Recent Ethical Obligations Confronting Public Administrators in Their Day-To-Day Decision Making

Public Interest

            The concept of public interest can be defined as the general well-being and welfare of the people, in which all the people have a stake (Stone & Ostrower, 2007). The citizens have equal rights and it is for this reason that they have a stake in the society and the government and other welfare organizations must guarantee them protection and recognition. Although the term public interest has no clear definition on what it clearly constitutes, many governments and supporting agencies often employ it in matters that govern state confidentiality and secrecy.

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Although public interest an abstract notion, it has been used to mean the recognition for the rights and interests of the citizens. For example, in providing a municipal wireless network (MWN), the government with the aid of funding from a funding agency provides affordable and high-speed internet to the benefit of the population. This offers a win-win situation since the citizens incur no costs, while the government facilitates the provision of such a service through an agency funding at no cost.

Administrative Responsibility

            Administrative responsibility refers to the behavior of the public administrators in carrying their duties and responsibilities (Argyriades, 2006). Public administrators are often expected to execute their duties in a just and moral way to best of their abilities. Moreover, administrative responsibility encompasses ethical observation by the administrators during the execution of their responsibilities. Public administrators are expected to act in a just and moral way to the public and themselves even when under no supervision. Administrative responsibility can be categorized into two broad categories; the subjective and objective responsibility. Subjective responsibility refers to those concerns for which the administrators feel a responsibility, whereas objective responsibilities are the expectations that are imposed upon the administrators from outside.

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Recent Ethical Obligations Confronting Public Administrators

            The concept of administration ethics has been a topic of great interest since the inception of the concept of The New Public Administration in the 1970s (Radhika, 2012). According to the author, the changes in the public administration ethics brought about in the 1970s came because of the concept of public administration in the new era. Numerous researches have been done on the concept of new public administration. These researches have been translated into practice with huge success across different continents. However, the concepts of ethics of administration still pose a huge challenge in many countries. The public administrators are confronting many ethical obligations in finding the appropriate economic and political solutions to issues. Among the ethical obligations that the public administrators are facing include global environmental and economic crisis, crisis of corruption and bribery, administrative discretion, nepotism and public policy dilemmas among others.

            Public administrators carry out their responsibilities in an ever-changing environment. In the modern world, public administrators face increased scrutiny from the public, increased demands from the citizens; with strict limits on resources (Gulyás, 2003). Public administrators have assumed different responsibilities and functions owing to the changing private-public sector partnerships, increased devolution and commercialization of the public sector. This has put new ethical obligations to the public administrators, who are forced to adapt to the new ways of performing their obligations. Moreover, these changes in the public administration may force public administrators in situations such as conflict of interests.

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            The public service is governed by a number of values, which includes integrity. Integrity in the view of public service can be defined to include standards and principles of public servants (Gulyás, 2003). The public administrators are now faced with the obligation of assuming certain principles and standards of ethical behaviors such as honesty and promise keeping. In summary, the public administrators are facing ethical issues related to resource allocation, integrity, equality and a balance between the public interests and the interests of the governments they serve.

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