Written Assignment: Administrative Discretion
It is difficult to definitively say yes or no to the question of whether or not I think public administrators should be restricted to only laid down rules in the discharge of their duties as espoused by Max Weber or should they have some amount of discretion. Though from a purely theoretical perspective my opinion would be that in the realm of affirmative to that question, undoubtedly public administrators should be restricted to only those rules laid down in the discharge of their duties. I am of this opinion in the theoretical perspective because this takes as much of the ‘human’ imperfections from the task of public administration as possible, which in turn makes the job more efficient in its execution. Efficiency on the part of public administrators makes for happy people, and when the people are happy, the duties of the administrators are lessened, as there are fewer problems which they must deal with, less work makes administrators happy and so saying efficiency makes everyone happy. Though realistically the results may very well be different, because you are of course dealing with people, and people are only predictable to a certain extent, and without sufficient predictability the outcome becomes incalculable. There is of course the possibility of a problem arising in which the laid down rules are insufficient to efficiently complete the task at hand, in which case some amount of discretion or “wiggle room” is necessary for the public administrators to efficiently do their job to the peoples satisfaction.
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First let us explore the advantages and disadvantages to the theoretical perspective in which efficiency is bred from public administrators being restricted to only laid down rules in the discharge of their duties. This perspective also awards the most power possible to the people under the public administrator, and in our current form of government, it is suppose to be designed to give the people power. It gives the people this power by using only the rules that have been laid down that govern the limits to the power and methods of the public administrators, these rules were at one point voted on by the people in some form. Because the rules were voted on by the people, popular vote decreed that these rules are designed to most benefit the people, and therein lies the peoples power over the public administrator. The people have then removed discretionary powers from the public administrator, which ensures, as far as the people are concerned, that the public administrator is only capable of acting in the people’s best interest. There are of course disadvantages to this perspective, in this complex and ever-changing society, there may arise situations in which the current rules are simply unable to efficiently solve the problems facing the public administrator. The people under the public administrator are not going to stop and consider that the rules that bind the public administrator are ill-equipped to deal with the problem, all the people will see is that the public administrator is not functioning in their best interest, and that causes tension. In order for this rule bound perspective to function the rules which bind the public administrator would have to be reviewed at certain intervals in order to maintain a rule set that is properly equipped to allow the public administrator to effectively and efficiently deal with the problems of the ever-changing landscape in order to best serve the people and maintain a tension free environment between the public administrator and the people. A good example of this perspective in practice, I actually have to deal with locally every day. Whoever it is that is in charge of roads in my area, while bound by rules that dictate how they handle the making and maintenance of roads, is unable to serve effectively the people that live on my road. I live off a dirt road that was cut by contractors that were hired to come back here and build some houses many decades ago, in their laziness these contractors did not cut this road to county specifications, and over the years it has turned into a soupy mud hole with car-eating ruts and all manner of unpleasant things that make for difficult travel in anything without four wheel drive. Though this is not a positive example of the perspective at work for me or the people that live on my road, it has positive results for everyone else, as the county isn’t spending money to build and maintain approximately a mile of roadway, and the county still receives taxes from all the people that live back here. Less spending while still generating revenue is good news for everyone but we that live back here.
Now should the person in charge of roads be allowed some personal discretion, we may have a nice paved road back here simply because we pay taxes, which leads us to the more realistic discretionary perspective of public administration. I call it more realistic because as fast as the environment is changing all around us every day it is unreasonable and would be irresponsible to expect administrators in a modern age to administrate by rule alone. We would be effectively tying their hands behind their back and they would get nothing done. This vision has a very obvious disadvantage, allowing public administrators to act according to their own discretion gives way for those that are not of a mind to work for the people, whose discretion will undoubtedly lead to scenarios in which the public administrator will be acting and enacting things which are not in the best interest of the people. This is an all too common occurrence in the United States government, people getting into an office and then acting solely for the benefit of either themselves or their political friends, completely ignoring what their office is tasked with, and completely ignoring the will and wants of the people. Though that thought is all doom and gloom about discretion there are people that get into an office for the purpose of serving the people, like the man in the case study about water contamination that we wrote about not that long ago. He was clearly of a mind to work for the people, and strove to do everything within his power, bending rules, and creating new ones to uniquely solve the problems at hand, which created a solution that was good for everyone. It was good for him, in that a solution to the problem makes him look good. It was good for the people under his administrative arm because he saved them money, and time, and federal wastefulness. It was good for the corporations involved in the pollution in that they were able to aid in the solution to the problem while costing them the least amount of money, and lastly it was good for the companies not involved that would have been held liable for funding cleanup anyway had the problem gone to superfund. Had he been limited by only the rules available, this would not have been the case.
Please put into your own words!!!