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Text 2. Law and Public Administration

When people think about government they think of elected officials. However, little is known of those who make governing possible. Much of the policy-making activities of public administration is carried out in large specialised governmental agencies. However, to implement its decisions, public administration must also have numerous profit and non profit agencies, banks, hospitals, district and city governments. In general, public administration is a complex political process involving authoritative implementation of legitimate policy. Whether close to the centres of power or at the street level in local agencies, public administrators are policy makers. They are translators and tailors of government.

Being a source of democratic principles, law is extremely important to public administration. In practice, public administrators are the actual executives of law. However, government must be accountable, open and fair, it must provide equal protection and equal opportunities as well as promote justice. These democratic values are not merely declarations, they are fundamental legal imperatives found in the Constitution, administrative rulings and court decisions. Nowadays law plays an important role in society. It defines and regulates relationships between individuals, business groups and governments. Public administrators must understand legal and constitutional obligations and act in the lawful manner.

In carrying out the law and implementing policy, public servants may interpret the law differently from lawyers. In this context, administrative concern is law in action. There are legal, practical and theoretical aspects of government under law that public administrators need to understand. Law tells them what the legislature expects public servants to accomplish, it fixes limits to their authority and sets forth procedural rights of the individual and the group.

Therefore, law, like administration is government in action. Law establishes, empowers, structures and constrains agencies and programmes. It provides for public participation, representation and official liability.

There is not much agencies can do without reference to legal authority. In fact, law is fundamental to a vast array of administrative operations such as human resources management, education, public heath administration, social welfare, rule making, adjudicating, contracting, street-level and other enforcement.

To conclude, if the elected officials are visible to the public,

public administrator are anonymous specialists. Yet, without their diligence, knowledge and creativity, government will be inefficient and ineffective.

Answer the Questions:

1. Whom do people usually think of speaking about government?

2. What type of work is actually done in large specialised governmental agencies?

3. What institutions must public administration have to implement their decisions?

4. What is public administration in general?

5. Why is law extremely important to public administration?

6. Who are the actual executives of law?

7. What qualities should the government have to implement law?

8. What aspects are defined by law nowadays?

9. What should public servants know to implement law correctly?

10. Are public administrators anonymous or visible and well-known figures?


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