The role of public administration in modern society
What role should public administration play in this modern society?
In answering this question, the best way is to know the fundamental governance principles that public administration is a result of the collective consent of the citizens to be governed and the fact that the world has gone too modern.
The first among the principles is expressed as “public office is a public trust.”
With this, every decision or action resulting from public administration must be based on the thought that such is being done as a trustee of the people. It being one done for someone else, that someone else collectively called “the people,” the action must be one for the benefit of the one who gives the trust.
Every public administrator must think that all public offices are created by the people.
And in so doing, the act or decision must be done in perfection: that the action or decision must be one deliberated upon in extreme observance of the fiduciary faith from the citizens.
And in case of doubt, it should be resolved in favor of the people.
The next principle is “transparency.”
Every public administrator must think that transparency is indispensable in every plan or decision or action.
He has no discretion to hide things. He has no discretion to decide how much is every item or service used in coming out with a decision or action.
Every public officer charged with the duties of administration must therefore implant in his mind that secrecy breeds suspicion and suspicion erodes public trust. An administrator who has no trust of the public is like an administrator who has no authority to do what he or she has been appointed or elected to do.
The moment mistrust begins the right to the office ends.
Another principle of governance is “accountability.”
Accountability is important in the face of the truth that there is a need to make the work right, the truth that imperfections are a way of life and the truth that men tend to be consumed by greed, pettiness and desire for power and fame, and the truth that those who caused the work to be done not right must answer for his or her fault.
Now, it is a way of life that those who want works that are not right are those who want their deeds hidden.
With this reality, there ought to be a system that keeps accountability strong and invincible against these imperfections of life and, with more reason, against those who want to do not right by the impulsion of greed.
With these principles in mind, the next challenge really of public administration is how to make use of the modern things offered by modern times.
An effective public administrator is therefore one who abides by these great principles and makes use of the technology to advance the causes of effective governance.
A public administrator can take advantage of the internet and the evolving online networking for socialization or otherwise.
Thus, one public administrator may build a website using free services of networks. He may choose to create a site at facebook, or multiply, or anything else. There are tens of thousands of available free services being offered. Actually, he can make use of all these sites either by taking facebook as the main site and linking the contents thereof to other sites as well. He may also organize yahoogroups or googlegroups and invite the clients of his office to join them. But he must not limit himself to building websites. He should be active by moderating the sites by himself and along with his trusted lieutenants. The continuing act of moderating is important because it makes the network or the site very lively.
But before coming to this, a public administrator must ensure that there are sufficient number of clients of his office who have computers and literate enough to use computers and do around with websites.
For example, a mayor of Timbuktu town should start modernizing his municipality by encouraging his constituents, including the farmers and tricycle and jeepney drivers, to learn computers and see to it that before they retire to bed they should surf the internet for at least two hours a day.
This can easily be done. The mayor may conduct a massive training first for the use of the computers, even from the simple way of making, sending, reading, replying and forwarding messages to the use of facebook, twitter and other social networks. After ascertaining that the basic knowledge about computers is learned, the mayor may now ask his sanggunian to approve a budget to be loaned to the farmers and drivers for them to buy cheap computers with basic hardware parts and software applications.
Then, the farmers and drivers shall then be required to pay with at least three percent (3%) interest per year. To ensure that the farmers can pay, the municipality must have agriculture programs to loan out farm inputs with the condition that thirty-three percent (33%) of the computer cost and interest thereof shall be paid for every crop harvest. To ensure that the drivers can pay, the computers shall be loaned out to be paid in three years with the payments to be amortized on a daily basis collectible from terminals everyday.
The problem of internet access can easily be solved by contracting with service providers who would now have a line with big bandwidth to be connected to all these internet users. A single band costs P5,000 a month for one user. This can still be used simultaneously by 20 computer sets with efficient speed using link switches so that each house would be paying only P250 a month.
With computer facilities in place and the constituents being literate to the use of the net, the mayor can now start networking with these people where he can disseminate information on municipality’s programs and get feedbacks from the constituents to know the defects to know how to improve the systems and programs.
With the computer facilities in place, the mayor must be proactive user of the internet and must be a very good moderator so that he can stir reactions from the farmers and drivers who would naturally react.
By doing this, he actually is making the constituents unsuspecting of all his moves and at the same time he has a built-in think-tanks consisting of thousands of minds giving suggestions everyday.
And by making this as a system that is enforced by an ordinance or a law, every municipality will have a built-in system of checks and balances. This is because the fact that the mayor or administrator is aware that thousands of eyes are on him or her he or she will see to it that no suggestion of impropriety would appear.
This system will also enable the public administrator to be effective and pinpointed in deciding what programs or actions to implement. This is because he can always launch a survey of the thoughts of his constituents by posting survey questions.
Additionally, a mayor or an administrator can easily link up with entities that can help his constituents. For example, he may link up with a private corporation buying corn products. By doing this online, he can now link his farmers-constituents to the buyers and sell their products at a higher price. At the same time, the farmers can have a direct access to the producers of fertilizers and other farm inputs to make cheaper procurements.
By doing this and by keeping in touch with the constituents or the clients of his office everyday, the administrator is giving meaning to the time-honored principle that public office is a public trust. He is also providing the comfort of transparency and he is in the process removing suspicions from the minds of his people. Moreover, a built-in accountability is secured in the process. The openness gives comfort because it makes clear who are to blame when things go wrong.
This is just an example of the unlimited fields of opportunity being provided by the modern society. But this alone is enough to demonstrate a good role of public administration in a modern society.
With these premises, we can easily say a more imaginative administrator can explore the world by making public administration an art within his touch.