Anda di halaman 1dari 8

More efficient the operations of those executive agencies charged with

carrying out the decrees of the legislature.

But not all the early writers fully concurred with the preoccupation with
administrative efficiency, Marshall dimock, for example, argued that efficiency is
coldly calculating and inhuman, where succesful administration is warm and
vibrant. It is human (Dimock, 1936,p.120). Dimock, as well as others, held that a
more sensitive understanding of management was especially required in the
public sector where objectives were less easily measured and where service to
the public was what really counted. Most important was the question as to
whether an agency that concentrated all its energies on efficiency could be fully
responsive to the needs of citizens and to other principles such as equity and
Efficiency vesus Responsiveness: A Case Study
As those in public administration have wrestled with the issues of politics
and administration and democracy and bureaucracy, public managers have
begun to experience day-to-day problems more often in terms of efficiency
versus responsiveness. On the one hand, there is the hope that public
organizations will operate as efficiently as possible, getting things done quickly
and with the least cost to taxpayers. On the other hand, public managers must
be constantly attentive to the demands of the citizenry, whether the demands
are expressed through the chief executive, through the legislature, or directly.
The following case study, based on a real-life situation, shows a practical and
contemporary expression of this difficulty.
John Taylor and Carol Langley worked for a local community development
agency. Following a rather massive reorganization of the agency in which a
number of new programs were taken on, John was asked to supervise a new
housing loan program, and Carol was asked to assist him. The program was
designed to provide low-interest loans to help people rehabilitate housing in
certain parts of the city. Although John and Carol had experience in related arcas,
neither was familiar with this particular program. To make matters worse,
seminars to provide help in establishing such programs had been held sme
months earlier. John and Carol were simply given a manual and told to begin.
The program involved a number of new activities and took considerable
time to set up. For example, it was necessary to train new housing inspectors to
coordinate their inspection activities with those provided by the city, and
relationships had to be estabilished with the many agencies that would provide
information about the applicants being processed.
John soon began receiving considerable pressure to complete the
processing of the first group of applications within a brief period. For one thing,
the first groups of applicants consisted of some forty persons who had originally
applied for other programs but had been turned down. Since their applications
had been on file in the agency for as long as a year, they were quite anxious to
have their applications processed quickly. Initial visits and phone calls from

several of the applicants made John quite aware of their feelings. John was also
aware, hovewer, that this particular loan program would have significant impact
on the community and that, consequently, his doing an efficient job under these
difficult circumstances would be important to the agency and in turn important to
his own future in goverment service.
Carol recognized the needs to do the work as quickly as possible, but she
also felt a special obligation to the applicants themselves. She took seriously the
directors comment that the agency could use this oppoetunity to help educate
the applicants about the procedures involved in such projects. She felt that it was
important to check periodically on the inspections, cost estimates, loan amounts,
financial information, and terms and conditions of the loans. Unlike John, who
spent most of his time in the office, she talked frequently with the applicants,
many of whom she know personally from her previous position in the agency.
For each applicant, John and Carol were to accumulate a complete file of
information about financial status and what kind of rehabilitation project the
applicant hand in mind. This file was to be sent to and signed by the applicant,
then forwarded to the federal regional office of HUD for its action on the loan.
John felt the process could be completed more quickly if Carol would
simply get the applicants to sign a blank set of forms that could be kept at the
office. When information was received regarding a loan, the appropriate items
could be entered on the signed forms, bypassing the time involved in reviewing
each form with the applicant. Also, this procedure would eliminate the often
lengrhy process of coordinating several office visits to discuss the material.
When John asked Carol to obtain the signed forms, she refused. Not only
was she concerned that the applicants see and understand the materials before
signing, she was afraid that getting people to sign blank forms might be illegal.
When she talked with Johns supervisor about the request, she was told that the
procedure was not illegal and had even been used before by persons in the
regional office.
Although this case presents several different issues, most students who
review it focus pm the different interpretations that John and Carol have of their
work. At first glance, John appears to be interested solely in doing things
efficiently, while Carol appears to be much more concerned with responding to
the needs of the client group. The case appears to be a classic illustration of the
tension between efficiency and responsiveness; but, at a deeper level, it also
illustrates how complex the issues really are. You might say, for example, that
John was trying to be efficient in response to the demands of those clients who
had been waiting for their loans to be processed. You might also say that Carol,
through her educational efforts, was helping to assure a more efficient long term
The main point, of course, is that, in public organizations, you may quite
frequently encounter difficultles on reconciling efficiency and responsiveness. A
key to resolving the ethical questions in situations such as John and Carol faced

is first to understand the various moral values represented on each side of the
equation, and second, to engage in ethical deliberation (and perhaps dialogue)
to arrive at a proper approach to the problem. Interestingly enough, in ths
particular case, the real-life characters represented by John and Carol got
together and talked through the differences in their respective approaches. The
result was a course of action they both agreed upon, which they felt met their
obligations to the both efficient and responsive. In the real world, dialogue
sometimes works.
The Limits of Administrative Discretion
Two other questions are closely related to the efficiency responsiveness
issues: the limits of administrative discretion and avenues for public participation
in administrative decision making. We have noted that administrators take their
primary cues from the actions of legislatures that initiate programs and from
executives who are charged with carrying out the programs. If you are hired to
manage a new agency, one of your first priorities will be to familiarize yourself
with the legislation that created the agency and with any executive orders or
other directives outlining the agencys responsibilities. But if your situation is
typical, you will find that neither the legislation nor the directions you receive
from the executive are sufficiently detailed to answer all the questions your work
raises. There will be a need to develop policies regarding these issues; policies
that are, in effect, merely more detailed pieces of legislation. In addition, as
you get into the work, you masy find it necessary to ask the legislature or the
chief executive to make certain changes in the rules and regulations under which
you operate.
The problem, of course, is to make sure that your policies or
recommendations for change are consistent with the wished of the citizenry. In
most jurisdictions, of course, the legislature and the chief executive are popularly
elected, and their reelection depends on their response to the publics perseived
needs and interests. For them, the electoral process assures responsiveness, at
least in theory. As long as you are acting in a way that is clearly consistent with
legislative intent, you are likely to be considered appropriately responsive. But
because most situations arent that clear, the question becomes, How can we
assure that the administrator is exercising discretion in a way consistent with the
will of the people, whether expressed in the Constitution, the laws of the land, or
the preferences of citizens?
Historically, two answers have been posed to this question. In an
important debate in the pages of the Public Administration Review and other
journals some forty years ago, Herman Finer argued that, to maintain
responsiveness to the public, managers in public organizations should be
subjected to strict and rigid control by the legislature.
His question was straightforward (though perhaps overdrawn): Are the
servants of the public to decide their own course, or is their course of action to
be decided by a body outside themselves? (Finer, 1972,p.328). His answer was
equally direct: only through specific and detailed legislation carefully limiting the

work of public managers could responsiveness to the legislature be maintained.

This interpretation of how to assure responsiveness is often called objective
responsibility, depending as it does on objective external controls.
Carl Friedrich, on the other hand, argued that the increasing complexity of
modern society made such detailed legislation difficult, if not impossible;
consequently, Friedrich felt that the administrators own concern for the public
administration. These schools take quite seriously the need to expose students
to the ethical issues they may encounter in public organizations and to ways
these issues might be resolved. This way of assuring responsiveness is often
called subjective responsibility, depending as it does on the subjective nature of
the individual.
One approach to assuring responsiveness that cuts across the objective/
subjective distinction is representative bureaucracy- the idea that public
agencies whose employees reflect certain demographic characteristics of the
population as a whole are likely to operate more in line with the policy
preferences of the general citizenry. According to this view, an agency with a
substantial number of women or minority employees is more likely to take into
account the views of woman and minorities in the population than would an
agency of white males. Experience with representative bureaucracy has
produced mixed results. Whereas we might indeed expect greater
responsiveness with respect ot race and gender in the example, there is no
reason to think that such an agency would be more or less representative on
other types of issues. Moreover, there is no real assurance that a person from
one particular group would necessarily or always reflect that groups policy
preferences. Those preferences might well be displaced by the professional or
bureaucratic norms that person adopts.
Avenues for Public Participation
Another way to assure that public managers and employees act in a way
consistent with the desires of the public is to involve citizens directly in the
decision-making process, through membership on advisory boards, open
hearings, or direct polling. Such techniques which have now become widespread,
took their initial impetus from passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964,
legislation that required the maximum feasible participation of the poor in the
design and conduct of anti poverty programs. In this case, the question of
involvement itself became quite an issue, especially as the representatives of the
poor came into direct confrontation with those holding established positions of
power in local communities. The movement toward widespread citizen
participation was soon well-established, however, and spread quickly to local
school boards, universities, and a variety of other government agencies. Today,
for example, the practice of holding hearings prior to administrative decisions is
common place at all levels of goverment.
There are questions of course, as to whether real power is transferred to
the citizens or whether citizen involvement is merely a device for defusing
protests. Some use the term cooptation to describe situations in which citizens

are given the feeling of involvement but little real power. On balance, it is
probably accurate to say that there are some cases in which citizens have been
coopted through involvement in advisory boards or even public hearings, but in
most cases, administrators are truly interested in receiving input from the public
that will help them make difficult decisions.
The complexities of public involvement in administrative decision making
are illustrated in the following case, actually a continuation of one we
encountered in chapter 2. As we learned, the Clean Air Act required EPA to set
national emissions standarts for hazardous air pollutants to protect the public
health. But no definition was given as to what would be considered an ample
margin of safety.
The issue received national attention in 1983 when EPA was trying to
decide what, if anything, should be done about inorganic arsenic, a cancercausing pollutant produced when arsenic-content ore is smelted into copper. The
problem was particularly serious in the area around Tacoma, Washington, where
the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) operated a copper
smelter. The EPA had concluded that, in the absence of any controls on ASARCOs
arsenic emission, approximately four new cases of lung cancer would be
contracted each year in the Tacoma area. Even after installation of the best
available pollution-control equipment, there would still be one new case of
cancer per year. But there was an important consideration on the other side of
the issues as well. If the EPA were to impose any more onerous conditions on
ASARCO- requiring, for example, that it use ore containing less arsenic or install
a new and far more expensive electric smelter- the company could not afford to
continue to operate the plant. ASARCO employed 570 workers, with an annual
payroll of approximately $23 million; the company bought an additional $12
million worth of goods from local suppliers. Closing the plant therefore would
pose serious economic problems for the local economy.
William Ruckelshaus, then Administrator of the EPA, decided that the
citizens of the Tacoma area ought to wrestle with the problem. Accordingly,
Ruckelshaus flew to Tacoma to announce a series of three public workshops to be
held during the summer of 1983. The purpose was to acquaint residents with
the details of the pollution problem, help them prepare for subsequent formal
hearings, an enable them to deliberate about what should be done.
Some questions concerned technical matters, like the reliability of the
proposed control equipment and the risk figures and epidemiological studies on
which the EPA had based its estimates. Other questions revealed the indequacy
of the EPAs explanation of the relative health risk posed by the smelter; One
resident asked whether that risk was greater than the risk posed by auto
Residents were not solely concerned, however, with the factual basis for
the agencys claims. Several residents wanted to discuss the effects of the
arsenic emissions on their gardens, their animals, and on the overall quality of
life. Several residents expressed hostility toward the EPA for involving them in

this difficult decision making in the first place. These issues are very complex
and the public is not sophisticated enough to make these decisions. This is not to
say that EPA doesnt have an obligation to inform the public, but information is
one thing- defaulting its legal mandate is another.
These numerous workshops, together with the national attention that
Ruckhelshaus had deliberately drawn to them by traveling to Tacoma to
announce them, created considerable and often unfavorable press coverage. In
an editorial on July 16, 1983. Entitle Mr.Ruckelshaus a Caesar, the New York
Times argued that Mr. Ruckelshaus has it all upside down... What is inexcusable
is for him to impose such an impossible choice on Tacomans. An article in the
Los Angeles Times pointed out the difficulties in taking a communitys pulse ...
(Should one) poll the community .. (or) count the pros and cons at the massive
hearing? Ruckelshaus was not surprised by the controversy. He said. Listen I
know people dont like these kinds of decisions... (W)elcome to the world of
regulation. People have demanded to be involved and now I have involved them,
and they say Dont ask that question. Whats the alternative? Dont involver
them? Then you are accused of doing someting nefarious (Reich,1985).
The outcame of the case is anticlimactic: before the EPA promulgated its
regulations, declining copper prices led to the closing of the ASARCO smelter
anyway. The case does, however, point out some of the difficulties in designing
adequate programs for public participation. Certainly there is every reason to
think that Secretary Ruckelshaus really wanted to test the pulse of the citizens
before making regulations. But his attempt was met not only with ambivalence,
as is often the case, but with respect to what to do. The ethical issues posed by
the requirements of administrative responsinbility are indeed complex.
The Ethics of Privatization
We noted in chapter 3 the increasing involvement of private an non profit
organizations in the delivery of public programs. Especially as governments have
contracted for or otherwise sought to privatize services, private and nonprofit
organizations have become major provider of public services. But, as we also
saw, transfer of responsibility may raise significant ethical questions regarding
equity and accountability. The government might find it necessary or expedient
to contract out for garbage collection, for example but neither necessity nor cost
savings would justify allowing contractors to the engage in discrimination or
other unethical practices
The issue is particularly critical for private sector providers, who could
have a tendency to maximize profits even at the sacrifice of some other public
value. A private organization might be tempted to provide either more services
than necessary for clients (to increase payments and therefore revenues) or less
services than necessary (to cut costs). Actions such as these, clearly motivated
by concern for profit, are less likely to occur in service delivery by nonprofit
organizations, simply by virtue of their service ethos, but even they require
mechanisms to assure equity and accountabiity (Rubin,1990).

In any privatization arrangement, the governments responsibility is not

only to assure quality and cost consistent with stewardship of public resources,
but also to promote things because we must adhere to laws or organizational
standards of conduct. For example, you may obey an order from a superior so
that you wont be fired, or you may purchase a new piece of equipment through
a bidding process rather than form a friend because thats the law. But you will
also encounter cases that will require you to think much more carefully and
much more personally about the standards you are willing to live by. For
example, purchasing a piece of equipment might be complicated by the fact that
your supervisor ordered you to purchase the equipment from a friend without
other bids. In cases such as these, postconventional or principled reasoning
may be essential. Certainly if you recognize that not all the answers can come
from the power on expectations of others and that careful deliberation
concerning moral principles is often quite appropriate, you wil be better
positioned to make the correct ethical decisions, time after time.
Moral action, knowing the proper and correct course of action is not
enough. You must indeed act in a way that is consistent with what you consider
to be right. (After all, we describe people as having integrity not merely on the
basis of what they believe, but on the basis of how they act). This concern is
especially significant for a public manager (or, for the matter, any other
professional) who wishes to act ethically. Questions of ethics in the public service
are not abstract; they are real. And they have immediate and sometimes serious
human consequences. It is thus imports it to consider how we ca assure moral
actions in public organizations.
A long philosophical tradition holds that putting principles (whether
utilitarian, deontological, or otherwise) into action requires the development of
character on the part of the individual. In other word, it is necessary to apply a
complex set of general principles to spesific cases- something that requires more
than abstract knowledge. Aristotle spoke of the importance of gaining practical
wisdom so as to make morally correct judgments in specific situations. This
practical wisdom or virtuerequires that the individual nt simply know how to
apply given principles, but rather why to do so. That is, to bring moral knowledge
to bear in the real world, the individual needs a strong sense of what is ideal in
human conduct.
This ethics of virtue, then, is not merely another philosophical approach
but a way of developing the skills one brings to the problem of ethical decision
making. Aristotle speaks of developing the skills of virtue in the same way we
develop other skills, that is, by practice: The virtues we get first by exercising
them... for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing
them... we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts,
brave by doing brave acts (McKeon,1941,p/952).
But what are the virtues that we must practice? Obviously, this question
has challenged philosophers over the centuries. Answers range from honesty,
courage, and trustworthiness to kindness, fairness, and dependability, but most

seem to center around concerns for benevolence and justice. If this is the case,
then all persons should practice these virtues, while members of spesific
professions (such as public administrators) should practice applications of these
virtues in their spesific situations (Tong, 1986, p 91-92).
How, then, does one sort out the various philosophical and psychological
approaches one might employ to make ethical choices in the real world? First,
if you set about solving difficult moral problems through the application of broad
moral principle in