Cases on Civil Service and Accountability - Essay Prowess

 Cases on Civil Service and Accountability


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Cases on Civil Service and Accountability

Question I: Case 1.2 on Department Organizations

Plowing Streets

The challenge facing the county is not unique but there are numerous limitations that the head of the public works department in the county must grapple with. For instance, it is improper for some neighborhoods to have snow cleared from roads while others remain impassable for days (Kettl, 2018). In this case, the public administrator’s principle objective is to seek to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the county’s snow removal crews as well as setting out priority areas based on their economic importance to the county (Lindblom, 1959). Public administrators are selected based on merit. According to Lipsky (1980), the public does not expect any political competencies from public administrators. This implies that I would decide on plowing the economically significant roads first. The decision to plow economically significant streets first ascribes to taking an impersonal standpoint on how the different neighborhoods will respond to priorities given in the undertaking of the snow removal exercise. Key thoroughfares are to be prioritized and cleared of thick snow before the plowing teams are sent to make way for emergency access for motor vehicles plying residential streets. Given that the entire county is experiencing the impacts of a severe winter storm, it may be hard for me as the head of the public works department to estimate the time by which each street will be served due to the erratic weather conditions.

Reacting to Residents Whose Streets Are in the Bottom of the Plowing Priority

I would tell the residents that the plowing of the streets is done according to the accessibility of the roads and their importance to the provision of public goods. It is imperative for the residents to understand that their streets are on the bottom of the priority list because starting with them would mean failing to provide services effectively. Public administration’s mandate is to show showing responsibility to the people whom the government is obligated to serve through responsive agencies. Consequently, the head of the public administration department is obliged to queries put across by residents decrying their bottom place in the plowing priority list and eliminate occurring conflicts (Kettl, 2018). The response to such questions is to underscore that the department is hinged on ensuring performance. I can only ascertain productivity by taking a proactive approach towards accountability. Accountability appertains the public administrator maintaining a desirable relationship with customers who in this case are the citizenry residing within the county (Kettl, 2018). More importantly, as the head administrator I am answerable to the neighborhoods that are at the short end of the county government’s snow plowing mandate to all residents. It is important for me to establish accountability on all possible fronts. For instance, it is imperative to underscore the credibility of the selection process by outlining that program is designed to ensure that all critical services and public assets are accessible to ensure its economic lifeline is protected. Secondly, the head of the public administration must provide for fiscal accountability to extrapolate on reasons why a neighborhood appears sidelined (Kettl, 2018). The best solution for such a call towards fiscal accountability is to work towards greater collaboration with the meteorological department as well as the fiscal planning department to increase budgetary allocations for unprecedented weather changes. The fact that the heavy snow continues to fall is an aspect that the entire county should look to consider. This is to ensure that the twelve hour shifts that the snow plowing teams are working with make the effort encourage private participation in areas already plowed to keep snow levels at a minimum.


Issues of Accountability and Ethics I Might Face

There are two factors that weigh heavily on the path that public administrators take towards serving the interests of customers or the citizenry. The political and legal aspects tend to result in conflicts on how public administrators will execute policy (Box, 2018). For instance, one challenge that I am bound to encounter during the snow plowing exercise is the fact that the exercise would considerably impact on voter turnout. This will inadvertently determine which political leader will attain more representation at the ballot. This implies that the people in regions where snow plowing is at the bottom of the list have reason to distrust as well as accuse me of politically instigated ineffectiveness and inefficiencies in service delivery. To ensure accountability of the process and eliminate the possibility of political interference, it is advised that the public administrator involves the citizenry determining how the county’s resources will be employed to effectively remove snow without incidences of bias (Kettl, 2018). This will ensure that legal precedents take priority over political interests thus protecting the integrity of the process (Rosenbloom, 1983). In this way, as the public administrator I will exhibit ethical responsibility towards the county constituents as well as to the process. I will have acted in a manner that ensures that politicians do not interfere with their authority as accorded to them by the public. In this regard, I will come out as concerned with the ethically and morally astute character focuses on achieving set goals.

Question III: Case 8.2 on Executive Service

Challenges of Managing Employees subject to Furlough

An overarching element of the U.S. public sector is that there are numerous cases where the citizenry is anxious concerning the government’s role in advancing society as well as individual lives. The political impasse of 2013 that led to furloughing of government employees translated to the public exuding distrust in the political leadership as well as the bureaucrat’s mandates to ensure smooth running of all operations (Kettl, 2018). It is evident that the greatest challenge that public administrators are forced to contend with during furloughs is mistrust in the political as well as public service leadership. The legal aspect of the American public administration demands that particular procedures are adhered to before the executive is accorded inputs necessary for the running of government (Rosenbloom, 1983). The impasse between the two implies that in the short, medium, and longer term, the managerial competencies of public administration will be compromised. According to Lewis and Cho (2011), the conflicting values undermine the responsiveness of the civil service system to serving the public. It leads to inaction where reduced budget allocation results in the ability of government to maintain the civilian workforce (Kettl, 2018). Furloughs and in other instances, laying off employees in public administration generally leads to into a contraction of the economy which both the politicians and legislators are wary about. However, remedying the damage done on the public administration especially its employees only serves to increase mistrust between the government and the society.

The Civil Service System

The American government is obligated to be adequately responsive to society’s needs. For the people to gain confidence it is capacity to ensure public goods and services are available, the government has to be effective and efficient in the running of its operations (Box, 2018). According to Kettl (2018), the latter parts of the 19th Century witnessed reforms in the nation’s civil service apparatus. The civil service entails the arm of government which administrates over the society’s affairs in a business-like fashion (Rosenbloom, 1983). This implies that the civil service system is essentially the government’s human resource enterprise. The breadth of government operations in response to society’s needs implies that it is a very large employer (Daley, 2012). Advantages associated with the civil service system include the presence of a central authority making the organization effective and at the same time efficient. The civil service conforms to top down hierarchical system where legal instruments determine the chain of command. There are specific tasks and role for office holder of varying cadre which allows for accountability in the manner with which tasks are carried out from the senior-most officers to the least junior staff member (Kettl, 2018). Secondly, the civil service system demand that only highly specialized workers are recruited and trained towards ensuring effectiveness and efficiency of government operations. The level of expertise as well as the educational background expected of such persons is aimed at ensuring that only those with high competencies serve the public. It offers personnel in high office with the opportunity to expand on their knowledge base while also fully applying professional skillsets into executing their mandate (Lewis & Cho, 2011). Thirdly, the civil service system supports for hiring as well as promotion that is based on merit. It also takes great care to ensure employee obligations and rights are respected all across the board (Daley, 2012). This implies that staffs are not separated from their workplaces without due diligence to prove that they do not deserve to hold position given to them. Drawbacks associated with the civil service system are that it exists within a bureaucracy. For instance, there is repetitiveness in the tasks assigned even for specialized roles leading to low morale, productivity, and absenteeism (Kettl, 2018). Secondly, it tends to exhibit great ineffectiveness resulting from a low degree of competition among staffs. For most workers, the bureaucratic nature of the workplace does not allow them the opportunity to work outside their job descriptions and show off other skills.


Usefulness of the Civil Service System

The civil service system remains the center for many criticisms. The most notable being that the government’s ever increasing size is unaffordable. To remedy this challenge, lawmakers advance the notion that the civil service system is very relevant to effectively and efficiently meeting the needs of the society (Kettl, 2018). The direction is towards enacting laws that allow for budget reductions. These measures have had the impact of further encouraging calls to the effect that the civil service is unable to handle the function society expects the government to deliver on. However, there are numerous roles that the civil service plays that are impossible to accomplish via the private sector. For instance, the issue of gender, race, disability, and sexual preference-based discrimination is not present in the civil service. The civil service works to support the enforcement of legislation that protects sections of the society (Kettl, 2018). For this reason, the civil service remains a critical element in enabling lawmakers realize the establishment as well as execution of laws through it as a .


Box, R. C. (2018). Essential history for public administration. Irvine, CA: Melvin & Leigh.  ISBN 13: 978-0-99923591-1.

Daley, D. M. (2012). A fire bell in the night: Unfunded liability and local government retiree health care benefits. Public Personnel Management41(4), 619-635.

Kettl, D. F. (2018). Politics of the administrative process (7th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press. ISBN 13: 978-1-50635709-6.

Lewis, G. B. & Cho, Y. J. (2011). The aging of the state government workforce: Trends and implications. The American Review of Public Administration, 41(1) 48-60

Lindblom, C. E. (1959). The science of “muddling through”. Public Administration Review,19(2), 79-88.

Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public services. New York City, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Rosenbloom, D. H. (1983). Public administrative theory and the separation of powers. Public Administration Review, 43(3), 219-227.

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