PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: TERM PAPER TOPIC: INVENTING THE PARADIGM FOR THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION IN GHANA – REVERBERATIONS FROM THE PAST AND LESSONS OF TODAY. ISABEL BOATEN Abstract For over a hundred years, the quest to reform the public sector has spurred the development of an impressive body of knowledge on public administration. However, the jury is still out on what the best theory for reforming the public sector is. Is it the rational bureaucracy theory of Webber?
Can there ever be a dichotomy between politics and administration? Is the satisficing theory of Herbert Wilson the answer? or the humanist approach of Waldo? Is the panacea an entrepreneurial approach to public administration as posited by the New Public Management proponents and the revolutionary strides to reinvent government by Osborne and Gaebler? Whilst there is sure to be a hang jury on what the best theory is, the verdict is clear that there is no single theory that answers the old age question of how to reform the public sector.
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The absence of “the theory” that will transform the public sector has been attributed to several factors key of which are the idiosyncrasies of a country including the vision of political leadership, the preoccupation of an era, the system of governance, culture and the skill set of public managers. Since colonial times, there have been various attempts to reform the public sector in Ghana but the returns have been difficult to quantify.
These reforms have been hinged on the execution of sometimes adhoc, sometimes well defined strategic programmes largely executed under the tutelage of international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The creation of the Ministry of Public Sector Reform in 2005 was an acknowledgment of the importance of these reforms. It would appear that these reforms have been based on programmes influenced by applied theories of public administration but not on any identifiable theory or theories of public administration relevant to the Ghanaian context.
The objective of the Project is to assess the applicability and extent of the dominant themes in the various schools of thought on public administration reforms in Ghana through Ghana’s political history and contemporary and current reforms. The Project will be undertaken primarily through literature reviews and institutional surveys of key government ministries, departments and agencies and local government authorities. The expected outcome of the Project will be the development of proposals for the formulation of a new paradigm for public administration in Ghana.
A paradigm that draws on the best concepts provided in the different theories which can significantly support Ghana’s vision of becoming a middle- income country. Scope Of Paper Section 1 of the paper discusses definitional issues, perspectives and scope of public administration globally and in the Ghana context. Section 2 discusses the evolution and key themes of the different paradigms of public administration and draws comparison with the Ghana context. Section 3 provides a proposed blue print of the type of public administration paradigm that will support Ghana’s vision of becoming a middle income country.
The Concern Of Public Administration Public Administration has been defined variously. Waldo defined it as the “art and science of management applied to the affairs of state”. Woodrow Wilson defined it as the “detailed and systematic execution of public law” Rosenbloom’s definition of public administration focuses on the use of “legal”, “managerial” and “Political” theories to execute judicial, legislative and executive mandates for the delivery of public services.
One of the fundamental realities of any government, democracy or monarchy is how to manage the diverse and competing needs of its citizenry. This involves walking the tight rope of what services to provide to the citizenry , at what expense , what is politically expedient , what is ethical and in the comity of nations what is even internationally acceptable. Public administration is concerned with the system , rules and institutions that regulate how a government provides for the needs of its citizenry.
This is reminiscent of Rousseau’s social contract theory which is premised on the fact that government draws its power from the governed and that a legitimate government is one that meets the needs of its citizenry. Ted Gaebler and Alexandra Miller in a response to critique on the concept of reinventing government describe their understanding of public administration thus : “We must remember that the study and practice of public administration should be about the public itself. In any democratically- oriented society , the government must serve the needs of its citizens. Citizens are esults-oriented and the governments must become results -oriented…………………….. “ Who Should Care About Public Administration? Waldo awakens a consciousness on the pervasiveness nature of public administration with the perfect answer to who should care about public administration. ” …. Today your life may depend upon the administration of purity controls in a pharmaceutical house , tomorrow it may depend upon the decisions of the state department of motor vehicles , next week it may rest with the administrative wisdom of an official in the department of state.
Willy-Nilly administration is everyone’s concern if we wish to survive we had better be intelligent about it” In sum, every citizen should be interested in public administration. Recent estimates by the African Union (AU) show that African countries lose $148 billion a year to corruption, and the World Bank’s assessment shows that corrupt public officials account for the loss of $30 billion from the foreign aid to Africa.
In Ghana, like most democratic governments , the executive is responsible for the management of the affairs of state through ministries, departments and agencies at the central government and through local government authorities. The importance of public administration is best illustrated by the scope of public service in Ghana and the math of what it costs to maintain it. Article 190 of the 1992 Constitution prescribes the scope of public administration in Ghana to include the Civil Service , the Police, Prisons, Legal and Audit service and non – commercial public corporations .
If Waldo had been Ghanaian, his famous quote may have read : From the nature of judgments handed down by our courts, to the type of education you receive, to your health, to the taxes you pay, to accountability and auditing of the public purse, to the pursuit of law and order, to the state and operation of our prisons, to how foreigners enter and exit our borders , to how our public corporations are governed , to how the civil service is run, public administration concerns us all. The 2008 budget statement estimates the cost of administration and services for MDAs at 385. 6m and 120. m new Ghana cedis respectively representing 3. 1% of the Gross Domestic Product. This amount is exclusive of the volume of expenditure that government would make on the procurement of goods, works and services at the central and local government level. Public administration is more than a social science it is directly related to economic performance, growth and development. Perspectives Of Public Administration Using Rosenbloom’s characterization of public administration, there are three (3) important tenets of pubic administration “the legal”, “the managerial” and “the political”.
The rules and regulations governing public administration have over the years been translated into legal and regulatory frameworks. In Ghana for example, the Constitution is the highest law of the land and all other laws must conform to it. The Directive Principles of State Policy provided in the 1992 Constitution are non justiciable rules which are to guide all citizens, Parliament, the `President, the Judiciary, the Council of State, the Cabinet, political parties and other bodies in inter alia in taking and implementing any policy decisions, for the establishment of a just and free society.
In furtherance of this objective, the State is mandated to promote a just and reasonable access by all citizens to public facilities and services. There are several laws that regulate the conduct of public administration in Ghana. The Public Services Commission Act and the Civil Service Law provide the overarching rules for the regulation of public sector institutions and officials.
Other significant legislation which regulate how the public service is run include the Public Procurement Act ,2003 , Act 663 which prescribes the rules and procedures for the procurement of goods , works and services with public funds, the Financial Administration Act, 2003, Act 654 which regulates the rules for spending government funds and the Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 Act which prescribes the checks and balances for ensuring that expenditure on public goods and services are accounted for. The managerial aspect of public administration focuses on the values of efficiency and effectiveness.
It emphasises the separation of politics from administration and the use of bureaucratic structures to achieve organizational efficiency. In Ghana, this is reinforced by the legal and regulatory framework governing the functioning of the public services, the General Orders which prescribe expected conduct of public servants. The political perspective emphasizes how responsive agencies of government are to elected officialdom. This perspective characterizes as utopian the politics/administration dichotomy theory and asserts that the whole purpose of public administration is to execute the will of political authority.
It is trite knowledge in Ghana’s civil service that the role of the public servant is a technical one – to advice on , formulate and implement the policies of the government of the day devoid of any political considerations. According to A. L. Adu , the Civil Servant’s role is to implement to the best of his ability decisions handed down to him by his Minister or the cabinet and provided that the relative roles of Minister and Civil Servant are well understood, there need not be any conflict between them. In A. L.
Adu’s view Civil Servants must exercise “special restraint in political matter” and must be “sensitive to the political climate”.  Evolution & of Public Administration Intellectualism & The Ghana Experience Writings on public administration dates back before Christ. Management techniques are said to be traceable from Alexander the Great’s use of staff to the assembly line methods of the arsenal of Venice, from the theorizing of Machiavelli on the nature of leadership to Adam Smith advocacy on the division of labour.
For more than a hundred years the quest for the reform and efficiency of the public sector has spurred the development of an amazing body of knowledge in public administration. The development of public administration as a discipline was late coming in comparison to other disciplines taking centre stage in the 1880s. According to Woodrow Wilson in his essay the Study of Administration, political scientists and academics of the day were more consumed by the then contemporary issues of constitutionalism, sovereignty and separation of powers.
In Wilson’s view the issues of administration had become more urgent and as he put it “It is getting harder to run a constitution than to frame one”. Wilson in his writings was preoccupied with organizational efficiency and economy. According to Wilson civil service reform need to expand its efforts to “improve not the personnel only but also the organization and methods of our government offices: because it is plain that their organizational and methods need improvement only less than their personnel” . Foundations Of Public Administration America & Ghana
The beginnings of the classical or traditionalist school of management was dominated by Webber, Taylor, Gulick and Woodrow Wilson. Webbers concept of a rational bureaucracy was premised on the basis that public administration would be made efficient by the strict adherence to bureaucratic principles because they engendered predictability, specialization and ultimately efficiency. A theory that was based on the mechanistic view of man Taylor believed in the principle of scientific management which he posited was the best way of getting things done.
Gulick and Urwick posited that the best way of getting things done was through POSOCORD i. e. Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting. Woodrow Wilson provided a major premise to the argument of the Classical school with his politics administration dichotomy. The happenings in the 1840s Ghana forty years earlier presents an interesting anecdotal comparison of the foundations of public administration in a free America and a colonized Ghana.
The foundation of British power and jurisdiction in Ghana was laid by George MacLean who interestingly was not appointed by the British but a Committee of British merchants trading in the Gold Coast. The major focus of colonial administration then was to assume direct responsibility for the administration of the forts and castles which was subsequently achieved by the execution by the chiefs of the Bond of 1844. The Bond was effectively an acknowledgment by the Chiefs of the power and jurisdiction of the British Empire.
The Bond according to historians could not be said to be the basis of British rule in Ghana, it was not a treaty but a mere declaration on the part of the latter. The chiefs were only “recognizing the power that had already been exercised. ” Politics Administration Dichotomy & The Ghana Experience Woodrow Wilson in his politics administration dichotomy theory posits that “administration should be outside the proper sphere of politics”. That “although politics sets the tasks for administration it should not be suffered to manipulate its offices”.
Wilson however recognized that administration was interlinked with the proper distribution of constitutional authority. Whilst Woodrow was of the view that practical political necessity makes it impossible to separate politics from administration. He recognized however that a failure to separate the two would culminate in a situation where “the control and superintendence of the function of administration tends to be assumed by the governmental body which discharges the political function”.
Subsequent political scientists like Frank Goodnow emphasized the distinction of politics from administration describing policies and administration respectively as “the expression of the will of the state and the execution of that will. Ghana’s political history from colonial times to date tells a compelling story spanning chapters of a clear fusion of politics and administration to an era of a mythical dichotomy in varying degrees. The birth of the Civil Service in Commonwealth Africa states including Ghana emanated from the desire of the colonial government to consolidate her colonial administration.
The Service was designed to prosecute Britain’s imperial policies in Africa. ” In nearly all cases, this involved compelling or persuading a number of hostile tribal states to live together in peace and consequently having the means to intervene where peace was disturbed”. Interestingly, the core of the service was constituted by the Political administrative Service comprised of provincial and district commissioners. The provision of social services was the pre-occupation of the missionaries and the Civil service did not deal with the provision of social services.
During that period Woodrow Wilson’s idea of the best man for the job was illusory . The Civil Service was racial in structure. The policy was so entrenched that the few Africans in the civil service were described as “African’s holding European posts”. Appointments to the service was made “either to pacify the articulate but few educated Africans and chiefs who clamored for a place in the administration of the country or to forestall criticisms and agitation of liberal minded parliamentarians in the metropolitan country”. 
The major change in this state of affairs was introduced by Guggisberg’s Africanisation policy which was fuelled by his conviction that Africans were “equally qualified in education, ability and character to occupy positions held by Europeans. Unfortunately, this noble agenda was not pursued by subsequent governors. By 1948, there were only ninety- eight(98) africans in the Civil Service as against the Two hundred and nine(209) envisioned by Guggisberg. Subsequent in roads that were made in furtherance of the Africanisation policy was a by-product of the revolutionary approach to colonial administration in the post world war 2 years.
The first Republican Constitution provides some interesting insights into what politics and administration represented then. Article 8(4) of that Constitution gave the President the power subject to the Constitution to ignore the advice of any persons The nature of the power vested in the president meant that scant regard was given to advice proffered by civil servants. The hero worship of Kwame Nkrumah arguably one of the greatest visionaries of all time meant that the public servant was wont to pursue the political objectives of the President without regard for due process and without the wisdom of technical insights.
On the overthrow of Nkrumah by the National Liberation Council, the Civil Service as it existed was continued but not without incident. Public sector officials including labourers and security guards who were perceived to have been linked with the previous government were held in detention and were prevented from operating their accounts. By decree even awards of honour that were granted to public servants were cancelled. During the era of the PNDC, a more intensified form of the NLC tactics were employed.
Public officials lost their jobs through radio announcements and persons sympathetic to the revolution were appointed in their place without due regard for their competence. In sum, public administration, over the years has been characterised by the personalisation of authority. Political survival was secured through allocating favours and material benefits to followers. As a result, there was a loss of public accountability, cronyism and nepotism real and perceived. This is not to suggest that there was nothing good about the public service.
The service has seen great public administrators who have been change agents in the reform of the service. Article 297 of the Constitution enjoins all public officials to act in a fair and candid manner and to avoid conflict of interest. The Positivist Approach & Scientific Management The behaviorist school championed by Herbert Simon and Waldisky were of the view that the theories espoused by the traditional school were only prescriptive and did not address the issues that existed. The positivist approach taken by this school was to approach public administration as a science.
Simon , influenced by his boundless experiences in cognitive psychology, economics, management, philosophical science and artificial intelligence was of the view that the Social sciences needed “the same kind of rigour and the same mathematical underpinnings that had made the “hard” sciences so brilliantly successful. ” Simon believed that there was the need for an empirical approach to public administration in contradistinction to the classical school where public administration was a social study characterized by prescriptive rules. Simon’s theory emphasized the descriptive i. . what is, as against the prescriptive of what ought to be. Simon was of the view that human beings did not have the cognitive abilities to anticipate the outcomes of their actions and that decision making was entirely a rational one. Simply put, that people make choices based on their most important current needs rather than through a rational process. The more realistic approach in his view, therefore, was a rational one that takes account of these limitations, what he termed “satisficing “a word coined from “satisfy” and “suffice. He branded the theories of the classical school as “proverbs” because they were inherently contradictory and susceptible to alternative conclusions when applied. On this premise, Simon critiqued the traditional approach to public administration in his seminal article “The proverbs of Administration” in which he questioned what he considered to be the traditionalist’s one- eyed approach to the issue; focusing on structure and functions of authority oblivious to the issues of organizational decision making.
The introductory lines of his article are interesting to note because it gives a sense of the choice of the title of the article-“A fact about proverbs is that greatly enhances their quotability is that they always occur in mutually contradictory pairs. Look before you leap! – but he who hesitates is lost”. He posited that the accepted principles of administration viz (specialization: unity of command, span of control, organization by purpose, process, clientele and place) could best be described as proverbs because the essence of these principles were undercut by the fact that they were conflicting and lacked depth.
In his words “for every principle one can find and equally plausible and acceptable contradictory principle”. Christopher Hood & Michael Jackson in their comment on Simon’s “proverbs” say that the proverbs of administration should be taken seriously “not as statements to be discarded by careful research but as the appropriate subject of research”. In their view, Simon “led a generation of pubic administration scholars on an elusive Eldorado of logical coherence and testable hypothesis”. The relevance of this school of thought to public administration in Ghana lies in the approach that has been adopted towards reform.
The major public sector reform strategies in Ghana have been undertaken under the auspices of international organisations like the International Monetary Fund usually as conditions precedent to access to specific lines of credit or grants. The National Institutional Reform Programme for example was undertaken to strenghen the institutions charged with running the machinery of goverment. One significant reform strategy was the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy now the Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) .
One of the key challenges identified as militating against public sector reform is the absence of evidence based decision making i. e. an empirical approach to administration. The GPRS II recognises that ” the availability of relevant and timely statistics is critical to enabling conditions for policy development and assessment that allow for measuring inputs, outcomes and impacts. Relevant , reliable statistics convey the clearest message with regards to policy orientation, evidence based outcomes , effectiveness and accountability of government”.
The limitations caused by poor empirical analysis translates into inconclusive data which ultimately results in a non – comprehensive approach to reforms. Consequently, the positivist paradigm is key to the success of any public sector reform. The Humanists & The Development Of The Ghanaian Administrator The humanist school which was dominated by a Dwight Waldo and Frederickson George who posited that the human being was the most important equation in public management their theory was premised on the fact that the involvement of the individual and their personal development was central to efficient administration.
They criticized the theory of organizational rationality proposed by Simon and categorised the classical school’s concept of political neutrality as fiction. The public service in Ghana provides opportunity for personal development. However, it would appear that the focus is on the acquisition of additional qualification to go up the ladder in the service. Little emphasis is placed on re-orienting the civil servant on their role as custodians of public services.
The New Public Management – An Entrepreneurial Approach To Public Administration The refounding era brought without ideas and principles that emphasized a private sector and entrepreneurial approach to public administration championed by Osborne and Gaebler in their book “Reinventing Government” the emphasis was placed on engendering competition in public administration. The thrust of the argument for reinventing government proposed by Osborne and Gaebler is that the central problem of government is its bureaucratic nature that renders it inflexible and inefficient.
They propose a new paradigm where government is catalytic; steering i. e developing policy and the framework for executing programmes rather than rowing i. e direct service delivery. Osborne and Gaebler argue that competition is essential to motivate public employees. The theory of reinventing government was the premise for the national performance review of the Clinton era championed by Vice President Al Gore. Action over ideas. The NPR was hinged on 2 major ideas viz; the need to transfer power from Congress to the executive branch and to empower government employees by putting decision making on the shop floor.
Transferring power from congress to the bureaucracy and within the bureaucracy from top – level to lower level officials. According to Kettle, the concept of reinventing government revolves around two major questions viz ; Just what do we expect government to do? How can the bureaucratic power required to do the job be held accountable t elected officials and in the end the people? The agenda of the reinventors is to measure the performance of public managers by what the citizenry care about and not by what government wants to maximize.
To do otherwise according to the reinventors will result in a situation where public managers concentrate on making sure that the strategies are right irrespective of whether the intended objective is achieved. The major critique of the reinvention paradigm is that there s no well-articulated theory on which it is based. In Kettl’s view although it is easy to discuss the theoretical issues s the province of arcane academics, in reality ideas matter fundamentally. They both drive and steer action and they communicate expectations to bureaucrats together with a ense of the possible. Ted Gaebler and Alexandra Miller sarcastically counter this criticism by reemphasising the importance of action over ideas when they note ” Do public administrators constantly think about practice asymmetric game theory in their organisations? Do they worry about reducing “excessive supply” or “X-inefficiency”?. We hardly think so. They worry about making sure their traffic lights to work prevent automobile accidents. They worry abut providing clean and safe parks for their citizens.
They worry about providing enough police officers per capita to keep their communities safe” . Significant theories founded on this include the concept of the new public services propounded by Denhardt & Denhardt where emphasis is place on accountability and service and not on the process of management. The other notable paradigms include the new Governance theory of Salamon which emphasis the injection of models which allowed for the delivery of public sector services by the public services via Public Private Partnership in its various forms.
The next developing paradigm by Kettl is the transformation of government where the emphasis is shifted from control to agenda, setting, networking and the need for negotiation skills. In the 1980’s, extensive public sector reforms were undertaken as part of Ghana’s Structural Adjustment Programme(SAP) under the tutelage of the IMF. These reforms had the underpinnings of the New Public Management (NPM) where the objective was to reduce the role of the state in the delivery of services. The SAP called for slashing government spending, privatization, and opening up countries to exploitative foreign investment, among other measures.
Ghana launched its Structural Adjustment program in 1983 in the form of an Economic Recovery Program (ERP). In the late 1980s, Ghana’s program was perceived as “the model” by the IMF and the World Bank. Today, the IMF and the World Bank are very reluctant to refer to Ghana as their model. Under the ERP in Ghana, measures were taken to re-deploy the civil service personnel by 5 percent. This resulted in about 150,000 civil servants being laid off each year from 1986 to 1989. This happened because a standard set of reforms was prescribed, this being one, irrespective of Ghana’s particular situation.
As part of public sector reforms some corporations where converted into private limited liability companies wholly owned by government. The passage of the Divestiture Implementation Committee Law 1993, PNDC 326 provides a framework for the divestiture of state interests in public corporations. It is important to note that divestitures have largely not been smooth in Ghana. They have sometimes been embroiled in politics and sometimes resisted by employees of such organisations. Notable examples include Sabat Motors, State Transport Corporation(now Intercity STC).
The 2008 budget estimates that revenue to be generated from the divestiture of the remaining companies is projected at 257m new Ghana cedis, 1. 7% of Gross Domestic Product. Public Private Partnerships have also been adopted as a key strategy of government to harness private sector technical , human and financial resources for the provision of public services. In furtherance of this objective, a PPP unit has been established at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to oversee the planning and implementation of PPP projects at the central government level.
There are also national policy guidelines for the design, implementation and management of PPPs in Ghana. The proposed Municipal Finance bill is also intended to facilitate PPPs at the district assembly level. The Blue Print For A New Public Sector In Ghana There is the need to create a Public Administration paradigm that is founded on key principles taking into account the classical theories, the history of Public Sector reforms, contemporary issues in Ghana and Ghana’s vision for the future.
It is proposed that for public sector reforms to be successful , they must be characterised by the following: 1. Clear ,well articulated and disseminated national vision of what the public sector seeks to achieve with clear milestones for achieving the vision. 2. This vision and its implementation must be politically neutral. 3. There must be measurable targets and performance indicators. 4. There must be change agents within the public sector who will drive the reform process and ensure that the change is sustained and not treated as a workshop report – shelved. . The public sector must be resourced to undertake up to date research in order that the decisions they make will be evidence based. 6. Continuous training and orientation of public officials 7. Entrepreneurial approach to the delivery of public services Next Steps The next phase of the project will be the execution of an institutional survey to test the workability of these proposals. References 1. The Civil Service In Commonwealth Africa (Development & Transition) A. L. Adu, George Allen & Unicorn Ltd, 1969 2.
Report on the National Dissemination Workshop on Public Service Ethics In Africa: The Ghana Country Report 3. Public Sector Management Reforms in Africa; Economic Commission For Africa, Development Policy Management Division Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December , 2003 4. Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2006-2009) GPRS II 5. The Changing paradigm – Implications For Ghanaian Public Administrators , E- Kojo Sakyi, Ghana, 2002 6. Practical Public Administration: A Response To Academic Critique Of The Reinvention Trilogy, Ted Gaebler and Alexandra Miller 7. 960 Constitution 8. 1992 Republican Constitution 9. Ghana: Evolution And Change In The Nineteenth & Twentieth Centuries – Adu Boahen 10. Report on the National Dissemination workshop on Public Service Ethics in Africa: The Ghana Country Report 11. Ghana Civil Service In Context: A Constraint Or An Opportunity For Improving Performance In Public Organizations Nana Kwasi Agyekum – Dwamena, Performance Management Monitoring Evaluation Division, Office Of The Head Of Civil Service. ———————–  Practical Public Administration: A Response To Academic Critique Of The
Reinvention Trilogy, Ted Gaebler and Alexandra Miller  Public Sector Management Reforms in Africa; Economic Commission For Africa, Development Policy Management Division Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December. 2003  The Civil Service In Commonwealth Africa (Development & Transition) A. L. Adu, George Allen & Unicorn Ltd, 1969  Ghana: Evolution And Change In The Nineteenth & Twentieth Centuries – Adu Boahen  The Civil Service In Commonwealth Africa (Development & Transition) A. L. Adu, George Allen & Unicorn Ltd, 1969  Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2006-2009) GPRS II