Public Management

In the new approach, government agencies can be a convener, catalyst, and collaborator—sometimes steering, sometimes rowing, sometimes partnering, and sometimes staying out of the way. In addition, the way government’s key objectives are set changes. In traditional public administration, elected officials set goals and implementation is up to public servants, overseen by elected officials’ and senior administrators. In New Public Management elected officials still set goals. Managers then manage inputs and outputs in a way that ensures economy and responsiveness to customers. In contrast, in the new approach both elected officials and public managers are charged with creating public value so that what the public most cares about is addressed effectively and what is good for the public is pursued. This change for public managers raises obvious questions of democratic accountability, an issue to which we turn later. On the other hand, the change is essentially simply a recognition that managers have always played an important role in goal setting because of the advice they give to elected officials and the need to act in the face of often ambiguous policy direction. As noted, in the emerging approach the full range of democratic and constitutional values is relevant. Policy makers and public managers are also encouraged to consider the full array of alternative delivery mechanisms and choose among them based on pragmatic criteria. This often means helping build cross-sector collaborations and engaging citizens to achieve mutually agreed objectives. Public managers’ role thus goes well beyond that in traditional public administration or New Public Management; they are presumed able to help create and guide net works of deliberation and delivery and help maintain and enhance the overall effectiveness, capacity, and accountability of the system.

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