Chapter one: defining public administration learning objectives

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Group Exercise
Think Piece

Transforming the Postal Service

The twenty-first century has brought new challenges to the U.S. postal service. As group, brainstorm what some of these might be (e.g., anthrax mailings, pornographic material, the need to provide e- services). Each student should choose one of the themes derived from the brainstorming session or should write a one-page analytical essay in the form of a memorandum from the Postmaster of a local postal service to his/her employees.

Class Exercise

You are a human resources specialist in the city government offices for the industrial city of Lamont, Nebraska. You have just graduated with a B.A. in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska. A complaint has been brought to the attention of your boss from a group of employees in the Department of Administration against their director, Ms. Beverly Huxtable. The report, which has been formally written up by the hearing officer, is given below. Your boss has asked you, as a first step, to look over the complaint and list any public administration concepts embedded in the complaint. You remember your classes in public administration clearly and have no trouble in picking out at least eight concepts.

Ms. Beverly Huxtable is the director of administrative services in the city of Lamont. She has been in this position for the last six months. Her prior position was assistant director of policy and planning, which she held for two years. There were a number of serious problems with her work in that job. Despite these problems, when the director of administrative services position became available, she was promoted to this position with the support of her brother-in-law, Michael Huxtable, the deputy mayor of Lamont. Prior to her assistant director position, Ms. Huxtable served very successfully over a ten-year period as a budget analyst in the accounting department.
Ms. Huxtable’s immediate problems stem from her management style. She gives very little flexibility for independent decision making by her staff and insists that rules and regulations be adhered to very closely, regardless of the circumstances involved. Her employees feel like robots and that their creativity and initiative are being stifled. Ms. Huxtable’s own opinion is that she is an excellent leader. She believes that she has the intelligence, energy, and aptitude that is needed to be a good leader; but that her problems have been inherited. Her staff, says Ms. Huxtable, are complainers, incompetent, lazy, and irresponsible. This came about because the previous manager had a hands-off style of leadership, which created problems of laxness and discipline, and she will not tolerate either of these things in her department. Because of Ms. Huxtable’s insistence on sticking to the rules, rigidity, and overconformity, the public is not being served in an efficient and timely fashion by the departments that report to her.
Meanwhile, citizens of Lamont are expressing their frustrations and calling for a new catalytic, entrepreneurial government. They have been calling for greater performance standards and accountability of city services. The mayor has undertaken a review of city operations with a view to making radical changes in the way the city delivers its efforts to the public. However, the mayor has been stymied at every turn by his director of administrative services, Ms. Huxtable. This latest complaint from the employees in her department gives the mayor added ammunition to add to the case for dismissal of Ms. Huxtable.

After reading Chapter 10 in the textbook, the student should be able to:
1. Understand the personnel function in the public sector and its role in:

a. Recruitment

b. Merit Selection

c. Position Classification

d. Performance Appraisal

e. Training

f. Management Development
2. Comprehend the history and current challenges of civil service reform.
3. Explain the issues surrounding patronage appointments, including:

a. The role of patronage in the political process.

b. The function and importance of the Plum Book.

c. The questions of the constitutionality of the process.

d. The preference quandary.
4. Understand the principles that govern labor relations in the public sector, including:

a. The process of collective bargaining.

b. The legal foundation of the process.

c. The impact of strikes in the public sector.

5. Define key terms at the bottom of the pages and at the end of the chapter.
6. Write short critical essays on major issues covered in the chapter.


I. The Personnel Function deals with the technical functions of employment, such as recruitment, selection, training, and evaluation. Personnel requires an understanding of law as well as the major developments in the social and behavioral sciences. Personnel administration has evolved from being largely a clerical function into a professional practice. a. Personnel Merit Selection: This process began with civil service reform in the late nineteenth century, which gave birth to the Pendleton Act in 1883. The act created the U.S. Civil Service Commission. It mandated open competitive examinations, probationary periods, and protection from political pressures for the federal bureaucracy. The Pendleton Act mandated that examinations had to be “practical in their character.” The primacy of practicality was later reaffirmed in Griggs v. Duke Power Company (1971), which upheld the notion of examination validity based on the character of the work. b. Position Classifications: Traditional position classifications organize all jobs in a civil service merit system into classes on the basis of duties for the purposes of establishing chains of command, salary scales, and delineating authority. c. Performance Appraisal is about the documentation of work performance of employees. Most appraisals are too subjective and impressionistic to be useful because they are done in-house, and thus evaluators are reluctant to destroy group harmony with negative evaluations. Because of this, outside consultants are sometimes hired to do the ratings. d. Training: Training has always been considered an option, or a luxury, in organizations. In the 1950s it was the premise that since employees were hired on the merit system, they were qualified, thus training was superfluous. As opinion changed to view public service as a career that constantly needed upgrading, attitudes about providing training changed as well. In 1958, Congress passed the Government Employees Training Act, which mandated training in federal agencies. e. Management Development: This is undertaken in organizations as an organizational investment in human capital to develop leadership for the organization. Assessment programs are geared toward distinguishing which individuals have the potential for selection to a management program, and they typically observe individuals in simulations of problem solving, often within stress situations.

II. Civil Service Reform: Any government employee who is not in the military is in civil service. There are two groups of employees in the civil service: those who come up through the so-called merit system and those individuals who were appointed for reasons other than fitness for duty as patronage appointments. a. From Spoils to Merit Systems: While civil service reform dates from the post-Civil War era, its political roots go back to the beginning of our republic when “reinventing” public personnel systems first began. Jefferson faced the problem of a hostile bureaucracy in his presidency but refused to replace them with Republicans on the grounds that only malconduct is justification for dismissal, although he did make partisan appointments on occasion. Other presidents permitted the spoils system to a greater or lesser degree. b. The Pendleton Act—Federal Reform: Clamors for a merit-based civil service system, increasing after the assassination of President Garfield by a disappointed office seeker, led his successor, President Arthur, to sign into law “An Act to Regulate and Improve the Civil Service of the United States,” better known as the Pendleton Act of 1883. c. State and Local Reform: Influenced by the Pendleton Act, state and local governments began to institute civil service commissions. Today, 88 percent of cities with populations over 50,000 have merit systems on the books—but patronage instead of merit may still exist in practice. d. The Civil Service Commission: The commission, a bipartisan group of appointees, was mandated to keep the bureaucracy as free as possible from political influence. As time went on, however, nonpartisan career managers found themselves burdened by the restrictions set up to thwart the spoils system and called for an integration of personnel functions with the administrative functions of the executive to whom they reported. e. The Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978: This was enacted under President Carter in response to the complaints of red tape and the ongoing abuse of employee rights. The name of the Civil Service Commission by then was besmirched by incompetence and scandal and had to be retired. The CSRA divided the commission into three agencies: the Office of Personnel Management, to oversee the human resource function; the Merit Systems Protection Board, to provide recourse to aggrieved employees; and the Federal Labor Management Authority (FLRA), to oversee federal labor management policies. f. Reinventing Public Personnel Administration: Recently, public personnel management has been heavily impacted by the “reinventing” government movement. The 1993 Gore Report emphasized public personnel reform, suggested decentralization of personnel management, and promoted a “customer-service” focus.

III. Patronage Appointments: Patronage comes from the word “patron”—in order to get certain plum jobs, you need a patron in high places. a. The Plum Book: This is the informal name for the publication U.S. Government: Policy and Supporting Positions, which comes out right after a presidential election and lists all the patronage jobs that a new president can fill at his or her discretion. b. The Constitutionality of Patronage: In Rutan v. Republican Party, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that traditional patronage is unconstitutional. In the earlier decisions Branti v. Finkel and Elrod v. Burns the Court held that the First Amendment forbids government officials to discharge or threaten to discharge public employees solely for not being supporters of the party in power, unless political affiliation is an appropriate requirement for the position involved. c. Veterans’ Merit Preference: The special merit earned by honorable military service is a variant of patronage that has been in place since the end of the Civil War, when veterans were first given preference in civil offices. In 1919 the privilege was extended to wives and widows of veterans.

IV. Public Sector Labor Relations: a. The AFL-CIO: The American Federation of Labor—Congress of Industrial Organizations is a voluntary federation of over 100 national and international labor unions in the United States, but it is not a union and it does no bargaining. The purpose of the AFL-CIO is policy and activity development. Each member union of the AFL-CIO is independent and conducts its own affairs. Major public sector unions are members of the AFL-CIO. b. Administrative Agencies: In the context of labor relations, an administrative agency is a private or government organization that facilitates the labor process. The agencies oversee collective bargaining, make rulings on unfair labor practices, judge legitimacy and scope of bargaining, interpret contracts, make decisions on the appropriateness of bargaining units, oversee authorization elections, and certify bargaining units. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was created in 1935 by the National Labor Relations Act to oversee and facilitate bargaining in the private sector. The companion agency in the public sector is the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) created by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. A general counsel investigates and prosecutes labor cases before the FLRA. Also within the FLRA is the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) to solve negotiation impasses. States have their own agencies, generally called Public Employment Relations Boards (PERBs). Typically their functions are parallel to those of the NLRB. c. Collective Bargaining: This is a comprehensive term that encompasses the negotiating process that leads to a contract between labor and management on wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. The process involves four basic stages: establishment of bargaining units, formulation of demands, negotiations, and the administration of the contract. In terms of collective bargaining, the public sector model comes from the private sector, but employing collective bargaining in the public sector is problematic because no union is equal to the government and to the people as a whole. d. Impasse Resolution: An impasse exists during labor-management relations when either party feels that no further progress can be made toward a settlement, and parties go to arbitration, mediation, and fact-finding for resolution. e. Strikes: A strike is a mutual agreement by workers to a work stoppage. In the past, unions used the strike as a powerful tool to attain their goals. Public opinion began to turn against unions in the later years of the twentieth century, and unions have lost their clout in the harsher economic climate of recent times. Today workers and management have come to the realization that they have one thing in common—the economic viability of the enterprise. Thus we see unions and management in an unlikely marriage of convenience because of their mutual interests.

Group Exercise
Think Piece

Stress Levels in the Air Traffic Controllers’ Workplaces
The air traffic controllers at American airports reportedly have very stressful jobs. An additional element of stress was added by the events of September 11, 2001. What additional kinds of stress-relief measures should be considered by leadership to help air traffic controllers do their jobs safely and securely?

Class Exercises

Scenario A: Mary Louise Davies interviews applicants for professional and management positions at MAXCom, Inc., a computer company in the Silicon Valley. She has been asked by the director of human resources to attend a one-day conference on Title VII, affirmative action, and EEO, in San Francisco. Mary Louise has a very hectic schedule, as her company is rapidly expanding, and she asks to be excused. After all, she explains, all she does is conduct the interviews. The final decisions are made higher up in the human resources department. a. Is Mary Louise’s excuse justification for not going? b. If you were the human resources director, what would you do?
Scenario B: Pete Chavez graduated with high honors from the Columbia University School of Journalism in the area of sports journalism. He then applied for the position of assistant sports writer with a local paper to cover basketball and football. Pete’s credentials were verified and he was made an immediate offer over the telephone. When he arrived for the interview, however, he sensed that something was amiss. He was told that the position had been withdrawn. Later Pete learned from a valid source that it was his height, 5'3”, and slender build, 120 lbs., that disqualified him. The editor had judged that a taller sports writer would have a better rapport with tall players than a short one. Pete plans on filing a “disparate impact” claim. a. Does he have a case? b. On what basis?
Scenario C: Tim Fujie, a Japanese-American, and David Dougherty, an Irish-American (white), are both applicants for promotion for the same job as detective sergeants in the Miniqua Police force. Tim has a bachelor’s degree in physics and three years on the police force. David has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, a certificate in conflict resolution, and three years in the police force. David Dougherty is hired. Tim Fujie sues on the grounds of color and race discrimination. Does Tim have a case?

After reading Chapter 11 in the textbook, the student should be able to:
1. Understand the concept of social equity in America.
2. Comprehend the major points in the challenge for equality:

a. Racism in America

b. The Bitter Heritage of Slavery

c. Second-Class Citizenship in America

d. Legislative and Administrative Remedies
3. Appreciate the notion of equal employment opportunity:

a. The Origins of Affirmative Action

b. The Case for and against Affirmative Action
4. Grasp the key areas of nonracial discrimination:

a. Sex Discrimination

b. Pregnancy Discrimination

c. Age Discrimination

d. Disabilities Discrimination
5. Understand the importance of public administrators being cognizant of the letter and the spirit of social equity laws.
6. Define key terms at the bottom of the pages and at the end of the chapter.
7. Write short critical essays on major issues covered in the chapter.

I. Social Equity: Although the United States aspires to social equity in principle, it has not always been able to achieve it in practice. In the nineteenth century social Darwinism inhibited the growth of social equity through its principles of survival of the fittest and natural selection. American social Darwinism thus justified child labor and many other abuses of U.S. citizens, which reformers tried to rectify. Reinforced by civil rights laws, social equity is one of the foremost concerns in public administration today.

II. The Challenge of Equality: The 1776 Declaration of Independence proclaimed that “all men are created equal.” Yet both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution denied this right to African-American residents and women. a. Racism: Our textbook defines the term “racist” as a person who overtly or covertly practices racial discrimination on the basis of color and ethnic origin and supports the supremacy of one race over another. b. The Bitter Heritage of Slavery: The importing of people from Africa to provide slave labor on American plantations began in colonial times. It was supported by the Constitution in Article I, Section 2. The Supreme Court upheld slavery in many decisions, the most famous of which was Dred Scott v. Sanford. It took a civil war, the Emancipation Proclamation, several amendments to the Constitution, and a vast change in social attitudes to bring us to the point at which we are today. Yet, even today, all people are not equal in our society. c. Second-Class Citizenship in America: After the Civil War the racial question was still not settled, and many states enacted Jim Crow segregation laws. Again the Supreme Court upheld the so-called separate but equal philosophy in its Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. More than half a century later the Plessy decision was overturned in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The Court declared that separate but equal was actually unequal. This was the beginning of the civil rights movement. c. Legislative and Administrative Fixes for Racism: With the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) came into being in 1964 to combat discrimination in the private sector. The coordination of all equal employment activity was assigned to the Civil Service Commission until its retirement by the CSRA in 1978—at which time these duties were transferred to the Office of Personnel Management. The passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in 1972 brought state and local governments under the EEO umbrella.
III. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): EEO applies to employment procedures and practices that are intentionally or unintentionally discriminatory in the areas of race, color, gender, religion, and national origin. It now also includes age, pregnancy, and disabilities. a. Origins of Affirmative Action: President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 in 1961 first used the term “affirmative action.” It meant the removal of “artificial barriers” to employment of women and minority groups in the federal service. President Nixon issued an executive order on affirmative action in his administration. During the 1970s, federal courts issued specific goals and timetables for minority hiring and compensatory opportunities for disadvantaged groups. By the 1990s, support

for affirmative action dwindled. A poll taken by Newsweek in 1995 showed that 75 percent of whites feel that the current system of affirmative action and righting wrongs in society is not being served well by EEO. b. The Case for and Against Affirmative Action: Proponents argue that affirmative action, by bringing all segments of society into the mainstream, elevates the moral and social consciousness of the whole society. They claim that affirmative action is not about hiring the unqualified, or about quotas, preferences, or denying the rights of white males. “Reverse discrimination” is a term that has developed over the years through a series of Supreme Court rulings. Well-disposed as well as bigoted opponents of affirmative action argue that merit and fitness get pushed to the side when affirmative action programs come into play. Some argue that compensatory benefits should be given to members of society based on class, not race. Today many states are considering reversal of their affirmative action policies following California’s Proposition 209 of 1997.

IV. Nonracial Discrimination: a. Sex Discrimination The Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, declared sex discrimination illegal, and today sexual harassment is included in the sex discrimination provision. The Equal Employment Commission in 1980 set forth guidelines on what constitutes workplace sexual harassment. In 1986 the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson set forth case law on this issue. b. Pregnancy Discrimination: Employment practices that exclude pregnant women (or women contemplating having children) were classified as discrimination in a 1978 statutory amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 was the latest companion statute. c. Age Discrimination: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was first passed in 1967 and often amended thereafter. It covers all employees in the public and private sectors. d. Disabilities Discrimination: In 1990 Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ban discrimination against physically and mentally handicapped individuals in employment and to require reasonable accommodation for these individuals.
V. Public Administration and Social Equity: Public administrators must be cognizant not only of the details of public law, because they must administer its provisions in a fair and equitable manner, but they also need to be aware of its spirit, so as to proactively support it.

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