The United States of America is perhaps one of the most successful nations in the world that enjoys great liberty and prosperity. Today, the system of governance used in the United States has been adopted by other nations in modeling their own kind of leadership structures. The nations’ leadership is based on a constitution that defines the operation of public administration and guides the operation within the public forum. However as the world is under constant changes a new challenge arises every other time. The present worldwide re-examination of the function of the State and of public officials and civil servants arises from two major sources. The first challenge that impacts public administration is globalization and its effects on the social, political and economic aspects of the country. The second is the increasing dissatisfaction among the citizens towards the decisions made by public administration. This paper evaluates challenges that public administration face in the United States. Additionally, the paper will review the reasons why democracy has been viewed as a very successful method of leadership and its advantages. Finally, the paper will provide recommendations for improving government efficiency in serving citizens as well as protecting the interests of the citizens.
Today the world is moving towards greater integration, interaction, and interdependence among the nations and people (de Tocqueville, 12). Countries are now investing in other nations thus trade and commerce is now interdependent. Human and physical capital is now shifted between nations in order to maximize profits. Technology and the internet is the leading cause of such integration by providing a means of enhanced communication between people of different races and ethnic backgrounds. The result is growing levels of political influence between nations in a sense that the political direction of one nation has significant impact on the commerce of another nation. At the same time globalization present several economic opportunities that nations can invest and take the chance to enhance the economic growth prospects (Putnam, 24).
On the political front nations are now impacting other nations at a mammoth scale. An example of such influence can be seen in the recent case of rise of terrorism and the political implications. In September 11, 2001 the United States faced one of the worst terrorist attacks in history. This was blamed on an extremist group believed to be operating out of the Middle East and especially in Afghanistan. Several nations agreed to create a coalition force led by the United States in attempting to have these group out and a new political leadership established in these nations (Kolbert, 25). The result was a never ending war with global terrorism now present in other parts of the world including the South Asia, Africa, and South America and now in Europe. Public leaders are now under immense pressure to rid the world of extremists groups. With such a global push to end terrorism nations are now coordinating by sharing intelligence in order to preempt terrorist attacks.
However, this state of international interdependence presents a major challenge for public administrators. The advent of globalization and technological innovation has provided more widespread access to communications. However, citizens in many countries are now demanding more of their governments (Jordan, 18). This increased level of expectation has led to many citizens growing dissatisfied with their government and thus the lack of trust in governments.
The World Economic Forum has been tracking public satisfaction or lack of it in different countries in the world. Some of the countries under study included Brazil, Nigeria, Canada, Spain, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Public opinion in these nations found that citizens were increasingly dissatisfied by their governments. Public trust in their government was found to deteriorate at increasing rate between 2001 and 2005 (Fry and Raadschelders, 36). Only six out of 14 countries had half of its citizens satisfied by their governments.
In the year 2005, about 18 countries in South and Central America were reviewed with regard to public satisfaction on public leadership. Only about 49 % of the public interviewed approved the operation of their governments. The survey of 176, 554 citizens in different Latin American nations established that in only five of the 18 countries did more than half of those surveyed considered the electoral process to be clean and void of corruption (Fry and Raadschelders, 38). About two thirds of those surveyed did not trust their administration to know how to spend tax money.
In the United States, surveys into the public administrations system have indicated that citizens, the media and several political leaders were not impressed by their government. Friedman argues that the Bush administration was the pinnacle of this disenfranchisement (28). The Bush administration found itself in one of the hardest positions any government would ever face. To begin with the country was involved in two wars that were facing diminishing public support. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States decided to invade Iraq and Afghanistan in order to stem out terrorists. The wars were taking much longer than expected and many soldiers were being killed in the war. Economically the wars were costing tax payers in the excess of billions of dollars pushing the budget deficits to the highest in history.
While the wars were at the highest, the recession that hit the globe began in November of 2008. The credit crunch crises which were sparked by the Lehman Brothers began the greatest economic depression since the 1930s (Friedman, 49). Several Americans lost their jobs and livelihoods. The American population lost all faith in public leadership and the government seems to have made this situation worse. The legislation that called for the intrusion into the lives of Americans commonly referred to as the PATRIOT Act, dampened believe in the government.
On the brighter side, the new administration seems to have changed this perception. The Obama Administration took over office at the beginning of 2009 and has since improved government outlook towards its people. President Obama first implemented his most successful policy. In the policy, the new administration was more concerned with domestic matters in contrast to the previous administration (Fry and Raadschelders, 21). In this sense, the new government was to be more concerned with implementing policies that improved the livelihood of the American citizens. Resources were to be diverted from foreign projects such as wars to more important domestic projects. For instance, the new administration was concerned with the status of the health insurance. For this reason the government introduced the new health bill that aimed at providing an all-inclusive health care system for all Americans
Additionally, the Obama administration aimed at closing down the terrorism prison at Guantanamo in Cuba. The president signed this as the first presidential order in his tenure. Moreover, the president moved to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by withdrawing American troops from these locations. To do this, the president and his administration drafted withdrawal timetable that was unanimously endorsed by Congress. American troops were able to withdraw from Iraq and the next butch in Afghanistan is still in the process of withdrawing. All these underscore the effort by the Obama administration to restore public trust in the government. Today, the American government enjoys one of the highest public approval ratings in the world. President Obama has been able to turn around an economy in recession into growth, created several jobs, saved many multinational corporations from bankruptcy and improved public opinion about the government.
Democracy and Implementation of Democratic Processes
One of the greatest challenges of public administration has been found to be implementing democratic process. The United States is a democratic country in which the values of public involvement in governance were enshrined in the constitution by the founding fathers of the nation (Jordan, 31). The United States of America was founded under extremely difficult circumstances. At the time the United States was facing civil war and at the same time governed by a monarch that was thousands of miles away. To this end the founding fathers identified that the best way to govern was to have an equal contribution of the public in managing the affairs of government. In this sense, the constitution was made so that citizens would have equal rights and thus would choose the leadership that they so wish. This heralded the first case of democracy. Today the United States is a strong democracy and is a country that enjoys unlimited freedom. America is has a dreamed or vision named after it; “ the American Dream” (DeParle, 29). However, this view of prosperity and good tidings becomes a responsibility upon public administration systems.
The challenge that falls on public administration systems is ensure that mechanisms of democratic systems work well. The concept of democracy defines that governments have to come up with institutions and structures that ensures democracy is maintained in the country
One of the most important structures of democracy is the involvement of the public in different forums in coming up with decisions. Public administration and governments have to enhance the use of facilities such congress and other assemblies when arriving at decisions. In the United States, each state has a legislative unit that help defines the operations of the state. These states have the right to enact their own laws and bylaws. However, these laws apply to the state and in some occasions these laws are in conflict with a neighboring state of the federal government. It is upon public administrators to ensure that laws do not contravene federal laws.
Similarly, the United States has been on fore front in urging other nations to be democratic and allow democratization of leadership. For instance the United States has led other nation in embargos and trade sanctions on non democratic and oppressive regimes. As very good example in this case is Myanmar (Friedman, 29 The country had been run by a military leadership for many years. At the same time the military leadership had stifled all democratic processes and the country did not have any elected legislative council. To this end, the government of the United States had imposed trade sanctions and embargoes in a bid to force the leadership to restore democracy. This method of coercion has also been employed in other nations such as Venezuela, Libya, Honduras and Cuba (Fry and Raadschelders, 78). The most recent case of imposing democracy has been used n Syria in an effort to push the sitting leadership to step down. In Syria, just as other nations in the Arab world, there have been civil uprising that is looking to have the leadership overthrown and other forms of leadership installed. The United States has led other nation is coercing the Syrian leadership to step down, end a looming civil war and allow a new democratic election to have new leaders in leadership.
Accountability and Transparency
One of the greatest challenges that accompany public administration in a democratic setting such as the United States is accountability and transparency (Kolbert, 89). A democracy is a form of leadership in which the population decides on the persons with whom to entrust the country’s affairs. Accountability is therefore one of the most important pillars of democracy and good governance (Friedman, 46). This therefore compels the State, the private sector, and civil society to concentrate on results that aim at achieving clear objectives. This also requires that leaders in public administration to develop effective strategies, and monitor and report on performance to the electorate.
Accountability under public leadership is said to have three dimensions (DeParle, 58). The first one and perhaps the most important is financial accountability. This kind of accountability implies an obligation on the part of the public management or persons holding public office or any other position of trust, to report on the intended and actual use of national resources. The United States public system handles huge amount of resources that if misused would dent the faith of citizens in its leadership. Therefore political leaders are accountable to the several arms of the government such as congress in ensuring that public resources are well utilized.
The second kind of accountability is political accountability. This is a kind of responsibility that calls for regular and transparent processes for sanctioning or rewarding those who hold positions of public trust through a system of checks and balances. This kind of responsibility is very important particularly when it comes to reviewing the conduct among the members of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. A good democratic system to be able to hold members of public leadership accountable in the manner they conduct themselves. In the United States, this system has always worked under congressional hearings. In order to establish political accountability congress has been given powers to cross-examine any holders of public office with regard to any happenings in the country (de Tocqueville, 48). The United States Congress then provides recommendation to assist in legislations or court processes to bring accountability. It is the challenge on public leadership to ensure that these accountability mechanisms are upheld with due diligence.
De Tocqueville explains the third kind of accountability as administrative accountability (46). This kind of responsibility is directed on the kind of administration the government employs in running its affairs. It implies that governments should employ systems of internal control especially in the civil service standards. Administrative accountability requires that a government should be able to provide incentives, ethics, codes of conduct and administrative reviews to the civil servants.
Transparency on the other hand encourages openness in democratic processes that guide the nation. Fry and Raadschelders assert that reporting and accepting constructive criticism fosters national engagement in running the affairs of a country. Thus a government should adopt clear processes and procedures that define the manner and actions of those holding decision-making authority. Ensuring this is done will guarantee that government has made comprehensible information regarding governance readily available. It also clearly outlines the standards that citizens can expect from their government and what is accessible to them.
Finally, in order to run a government in good stead, integrity must be part and parcel of public leadership. Putnam asserts that integrity completes the continuum of accountability and transparency (56). This is due to the fact integrity is perhaps one of the most vital concepts of professional ethics. Good governance must value the need for integrity and instill these concepts on the civil servants.
The United States is a country that enjoys unlimited interest and glamour from the level of success that she has since achieved. The country is now the home of the free world and has defied critics of human rights and free will. However, as the world shifts on the basis of commerce and industry, the United States faces challenges from all angles. First, terrorism is a constant threat to the freedom of Americans and as a result the government is constantly reviewing intelligence to stem any more terrorist activities in the homeland. Secondly, the advent of nuclear powers and the problem posed by Islamic Republic of Iran is definitely one of the greatest challenges to any government in the United States. The Iranian leadership has publicly declared their interest in attacking the United States. At the same time, domestic issues such as unemployment, poor healthcare system, the poor state of education system and internal insecurity present the greatest challenge to public leaderships. In the current world that we live in globalization is perhaps one of the greatest challenges the American public leadership faces. Other nation such as China, Russia and India present a formidable challenge in both commerce and military influence. Other smaller nations, such as those in Europe, are continually forming alliance and unions in order to have a stronger influence. For this reason actions of different nations have serious repercussion that reverberates in the world with serious implications. The United States must always maintain a position in the world stage so that it may influence the world direction in respect to its interests and that of its citizens. Another challenge that public administration must contend with is working to ensure that founding principles of the nation are upheld. In this case the most important aspect that must be maintained is democracy. Ensuring that all the mechanisms that provide for an all inclusive government are maintained is vital for the continuity of a democratic state. Public leaders in the United States government must respect these institutions according to the provisions of the constitution. To improve public leadership, leaders must embrace transparency, accountability and integrity in order to meet public satisfaction. With accountability a leader must always be vigilant to know how the public resources are utilized. Transparency ensures that governments are run in an open manner with known procedures. The American public system values openness and integrity and these values have help the country through the hardest times.
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