Public Service Management has quite a history. It has gone through several stages of development before it reached its current structure today. Obsorne and McLaughlin (2008) provide certain definitions that will be useful in this paper. Public Administration and Management is said to be term used to include the government’s practice of making sure that the state is run smoothly, the creation of public policy as well as its implementation. Public Services Management, on the other hand, deals particularly with the administration of public services.
Obsorne and McLaughlin (2008) say that in UK, public service management has been done at the local level, involving local government units in its implementation. However, the policies and plans relating to such practice came from the national level. This created an issue with the delivery of public service to the citizens. Also, there is an issue created when the local voluntary groups differ in view from those who are tasked to implement the national policies on public services. However, there came a time when these two bodies were coordinated. The government granted grants to the voluntary groups in order that they may deliver public service to the people as well. This way, the government retained control over the delivery and administration of public service.
However, this does not remain to be the sole issue in terms of public service management. According to Doherty and Horne (2002), managers of the public service sector must adapt their management style to the changing circumstances. Even public services change due to the times especially with the presence of technological advancements as well as developments in economic, social, legal and political environments. The fact that public service is changing is accepted worldwide (Wallace, Fertig, & Scheneller, 2007). In fact, Kearns (2007) states that the current situations in North Korea and Darfur should cause the administration to take a closer look at national security. After the September 11 attacks on America everyone focused on the concept of terrorism as major issue in terms of security. This view lacks strategic thinking and merely addresses short term issues. Aside from these issues, countries around the world still face problems involving climate change and hunger. These problems should be equally addressed. It is because of this that the country has developed the Commission on National Security in order to determine the current and future problems to be encountered by the country and also the solutions to the problems to be encountered. The Commission aims to incorporate a national strategy that can address the issues of public safety and protection of democracy.
All these point to the fact that there is a rapid change in the way public services should be delivered and how the needs of the people should be addressed. However, the country faces another problem as the nation and the world is now experiencing an economic recession. As much as the administration would want to expand public service, it may not be able to do so in light of the economic downturn that is present in all countries. Hence, the debate regarding the use and advantage of strategy in terms of public service expansion. Strategy entails a lot of time and effort in developing, things that may not be available when the country is faced with such economic situations. The use of strategic thinking has many advantages as it allows the administration to map and plan out its activities in order to achieve a goal. A strategy also creates milestones in order for the administration to track and test whether or not it is meeting its goals to expand public service. However, the country is also experiencing economic recession along with the rest of the world. This means that the country may not have sufficient funds in order to take on this strategic formulation. This view is discussed in the following sections of this paper. In conclusion, it can be said that a strategy may be best implemented when the country is no longer in an austere economic condition, instead, one must be implemented when it has the financial capacity to take on public service expansion.
Public Service Management
Moullin (2008) reports that the concept of public service reform has now taken a personal level. The people are becoming more involved in the process as their opinions and views are now being considered. Part of such reform is the introduction of personal budgets. Under this concept funds for the development of an individual is held for such person by the local government. In areas where this strategy is not employed, the people have become less motivated. The old process involved giving services to the public all at once without considering the personal needs and individual characteristics of the citizens. These changes have not only been occurring within the country. The fact that public service is changing is accepted worldwide (Wallace, Fertig, & Scheneller, 2007). Therefore, countries must be able cope with such changes in order to continually deliver proper public service to the citizens. However, this may not be a simple task as the management of public services involves a wide range of aspects and also involves the views and insights of many people.
Doherty and Horne (2002) say that public service takes into consideration law and order, the environment and national security. However, the public sector is not the sole entity that engages in such activities. There are some private companies that engage in the delivery of public services as well. Sometimes, the government rents out its property to private entities in order for these public services to be managed by the private sector. The authors provide an example in the United Kingdom where the schools owned by the government are made to be managed by private companies. In this situation, the private companies develop their own strategies in order to make the school profitable. Public service is no longer confined to the public sector. This means that public services are not only dependent on factors that involve the public sector.
Doherty and Horne (2002) state that there are certain forces in the market that have caused the public service department to change. And the administration should be able to adapt to these changes. Example of these forces is the reallocation of funds from one public service to another. There also have been recent developments that make public service more personal to those who will receive the benefits. There also has been a shared role between the public and private providers of public services. All these factors create certain changes in the management of public services.
Flynn (2007) emphasizes that managing a public service entity is different from that of a private company. In the public sector the public view is an important aspect of its operations. Also, a result of a survey states that the public sees no difference in the services provided by the government and those provided by the private sector.
A Changing Public Service Sector
As mentioned earlier, public services has been changing lately. Public service now also includes aspects of national security, education and workforce training aside from the basic welfare services that was included in the term.
Also, the public service sector is not solely public nowadays. There have been moves of collaboration between public and private sectors and also an increased involvement of the volunteer sector in the society. This creates a partnership between the public and the private sector in the delivery of competent services to the public. However, the government has created a way to maintain control over the management of public service.
Another change and trend seen in the public service sector is that it has become more personalized. The view and thoughts of the people are now being considered. Before, the government simply gave out welfare benefits to the general public. Everyone received the same benefits without thinking about what certain people need more.
Also, it can be seen in the discussion above that the citizen’s view and perceptions of the public service sector is important in its success. The citizens are also concerned with the spending of the government because it is their money collected as taxes that is being used in these projects. As news reports state, the country is now in a recession and has to impose budget cuts in order to deal with the lessening income made by the country. This does not only mean that there will be less resources to go around but it also means that every body should be doing something in order to efficiently utilize the remaining resources of the country. It was also mentioned earlier that the Treasury had taken on certain roles in the delivery of public services when the economy was good. However, now that the recession has hit, the Treasury is now becoming more focused in doing its core responsibilities which is to oversee the financial and economic situation of the country.
All these factors indicate that the employment of a national strategy would be better used when the country is ready to take on public service expansion rather than when it is experiencing a recession.
Public Service Projects
Gottfried (2010) reports that the government has focused on the issue of poverty and by doing so, has taken on the task of increasing the employment levels in the country. However, the author is of the view that employment is not the only solution to the issue of poverty that the country is facing. The thought that there is a direct correlation between poverty and employment is a good one but it lacks strategic thinking. According to Lanning (2010), firms must use programs that are effective in terms of training and developing the employees in order to be able to contribute to the improvement of the economy. In some countries, the businesses are required to contribute to a fund in order to help out the unemployment rate. So, the companies must use a strategy in order to address the issues of unemployment.
Lodge and Dolphin (2009) state that the global recession has caused the public to doubt the administration’s ability to deal with the situation. The Treasury does not only need to come up with a strategy in order to survive the economic downturn but must also be able to come up with a budget plan in order to save on the country’s resources. During the times that the country had a high income, the Treasury also had roles to play in other aspects of the nation such as welfare, poverty and development and economic strategy.
According to Lodge and Dolphin (2009), during the recession, the Treasury should now be focusing on the financial aspects of the country instead of trying to take on strategies involving welfare and public management. In fact, due to the recession, the Treasury has been downsizing in terms of employees. This caused the department to lose personnel who had very important skills to share in the running of the country. So, the department tried to get more employees to join the department in order to use their skills and talent to face the recession.
As mentioned above, the recession has caused government agencies to focus on their main responsibilities. During a recession, every resource should be used efficiently and effectively.
Flynn (2007) reports that public spending in terms of public service providing has been quite stable. There was an increase in spending after the war in response to the need for such services. However, public spending has now been kept at a balanced rate.
Flynn (2007) also emphasizes the importance of public spending. The funds used for such activities are taken from taxes that are imposed on the people. Thus, the citizens are very much concerned about where there money is being spent. Taxation practices are also dependent on the wage rates of the country and the existing economic conditions. Hence, the countries with low wage rates will likely disagree with higher taxes. Also, taxes are used for the benefits of the country as public spending is used for the improvement of education, infrastructure and the nation’s global competitiveness.
Hutt (2010) reports that the UK Government has released its budget plans for the next four years and has revealed budget cuts that are greater than those imposed after the World War. This was made in response to the budget deficit being experienced by the country. The budget cut has also affected the welfare industry and is said to affect the slow recovery of the country from the global recession. The budget cuts also affect the government projects in infrastructure and education.
The global recession has affected the government’s public spending. There is now less resources to go around for the needs of the people, much less for the improvement and development of existing systems.
Contractor (2002) states that strategy has an important role in the expansion process of a company. There are many aspects that need to be considered when the company seeks to expand and each of these factors should be considered carefully. There are several types of strategies that may be utilized in order to answer a particular need of the company. However, the company must also consider that expansion will entail releasing funds in order to make the expansion process successful.
The Welsh government has a program that seeks to provide better public services to the citizens (Improving Public Services, 2010). This program involves making the needs of the people a top priority and also to be able to collaborate with other players in the industry. The government has created a five year action plan in order to achieve such goals. It is evident from this program that in order for the administration to deliver proper and effective public service, it has to come up with a strategy in order to plan and organize the many elements of an expansion process.
This may not be the case when the country is in turmoil or is experiencing an economic downturn. In the previous sections it was said that the Treasury had to give up its role in the public sector due to the economic downturn in order for it to focus on its real responsibilities. This was done almost immediately in order to answer the needs of the country in times of economic hardship. It should be noted that a strategy is not something that is short term and does not answer immediate problems. Instead, a strategy is a long term plan that seeks to remedy a graver recurring problem.
Another aspect to be seen is that a strategic plan will need a number of resources to be expended by the government. There are studies to be made, surveys and other procedures that will be essential in obtaining the information needed to come up with a strategy. In times of recession, the government cannot be expected to release additional funds in order to assess the current situation when it does not have sufficient funds to answer all the nation’s needs. In fact, news reports state that the UK government has already announced that the country has experienced a budget deficit and also stated that a four year plan based on budget cuts is already in place in order to answer such deficit.
The public service sector is now changing and becoming more personalized to the citizens. This will entail time and effort in order to determine the exact wants and needs of the citizens. The implementation of a more personal public service system will also entail the implementation of a strategy in order to secure its success. However, this cannot be the case if the country is experiencing a negative economic environment as the implementation of a strategy requires much resources to be spent. The recession has depleted the country’s resources and the remaining resources should be used efficiently in order to obtain the greatest benefit for the people.
The public sector and the provision for public services in the country has a rich history and development over the years. And because of the evolving times and the developments in economics, technology and the society, the demands for public services has become one that is changing in order to adopt to such changes. These changes also make it necessary for the government to adapt to the changes in the demands for public services. In order to do this, it must come up with a strategy in order to implement such changes.
However, it is important to note, that the country, as well as the whole world is now experiencing the effects of the recession. In fact, the UK government has already announced that the country is experiencing a budget deficit and is about to implement budget cuts in all aspects of its operations, including the welfare department. Aside from budget cuts, government agencies are now more focused on addressing the needs of the people due to the recession. The Treasury is now focusing on its main role. Other agencies are now searching for ways to decrease poverty, aside from simply providing jobs. The recession makes it quite difficult to implement a strategy. In time of recession, the main goal is to alleviate the situations of the people. It is a short term view. On the other hand, a strategy involves something long term and also involves a plan and coordinated efforts in order to achieve certain objectives. Due to such austere times, the strategy may not be implemented properly because of lack of resources and lack of time to implement such.
Hence, a strategy would be best adapted if the country is already financially and economically prepared to take on expansion activities for its public services. In this situation, the country will be better prepared for the implementation of such strategy.