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Unformatted text preview: ■ 1 ■ Chapter ONE The American Public Service F or many Americans, the terms “human resources department” and “personnel office” bring to mind legions of faceless “bureaucrats” in green eyeshades keeping files and mindlessly enforc- ing arcane rules designed to frustrate all efforts to get real work done efficiently, if at all. In some places, this stereotype of the personnel function may be accurate, as some of us can testify on the basis of per- sonal experiences. It is true that personnel administration in govern- ment does involve the implementation of public laws and the enforce- ment of regulatory policies. Human resources units are also responsible for what are to most of us unexciting day-to-day opera- tions like payroll and benefits administration. We expect that these processes will be carried out in an efficient and timely manner and we notice if they are not. More broadly, however, it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of carrying out these traditional personnel functions in an efficient and timely manner. They can be in this sense important contributors to organizational performance. The public personnel administration of the early 21st century is far more than an organiza- tional maintenance and rules-enforcement activity. Public personnel administration is rapidly coming to be seen as a key element of suc- cessful public management and strategic planning. As such, public per- sonnel administration focuses on helping public managers on all levels to meet the challenges of attracting, retaining, motivating, and devel- oping the large and diverse pool of highly qualified people needed to staff modern government agencies of all kinds. 01-Nigro_001-020 12/30/05 11:12 AM Page 1 Today’s Americans rely on elected representatives and public administrators to directly provide or to arrange for the delivery of a wide variety of services. To mention just a few, they expect that their children will be well-educated in safe schools; that their roads and highways will be well-maintained and competently designed; that the food they eat, the water they drink, and medicines they take will be safe; that the streets of their cities will be free of violent criminals; that public health systems will anticipate and prevent epidemics; that ter- rorists seeking to attack American citizens and institutions will be identified and prevented from entering the country; and that their mail will reach its intended destination within two or three days. None of these services can be effectively and efficiently delivered by govern- ment (directly or indirectly) without a highly competent, dedicated, well-managed public service. The quality of American life, in other words, depends in many important ways on those who work for gov- ernment—on the quality of the public service....
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This note was uploaded on 08/25/2011 for the course PAD 500 taught by Professor Pad500 during the Spring '11 term at Strayer.
- Spring '11