In addition to the growth of part-time employment at the state and local level, private sector contractors play a much larger role in state and local government work. In some cases, private contractors have taken over the functions of government previously managed by full- or part-time state and local government employees. Analyzing state government payrolls compared to the private sector offers insight into the general trends in employee investment. Using data from the U. While compensation levels differ greatly across states, state employees are on average slightly below their private sector counterparts.
Salaries have risen over the last quarter century in real dollar terms. When studying salaries from a diversity perspective, women are still paid substantially less than men. White employees still make noticeably more money than minority employees. In trend analysis, it is evident that the salary trends for population sub-groups are paralleling one another — in studying median salaries at the state and local level of government as a whole, there does not seem to be any movement towards greater convergence or equity in pay.
Pay and benefit equity vary across state and local government serving as an incentive to attract the highly qualified and diverse workforce needed in public service. A lack of diversity in public employment tends to parallel unresponsive state and local government, particularly problematic in a period of time necessitating the strong civic community linkages that build an inclusive, innovative, and sustainability promoting society.
Bureaucracy is a tool of government. Earlier sections in the chapter illustrate the growth of state and local bureaucracy and the rise of a diverse workforce. But an important purpose of this book is to help readers figure out the current focus of state and local government and where they might become contributing players in governance. Therefore, a quick look at the top ten sectors for administrative employment in state and local government and a general look at the top ten average salaries is in order at this point in the chapter.
The greatest area of employment at the state level is in the higher education sector. Instructor and professors are only one aspect of higher education, of course. Administrators, buildings and grounds specialists, clerical staff, teaching and research assistants, student employees, and a whole host of other personnel play a significant role in higher education. After higher education, corrections — which deal with the incarceration and community supervision of convicted individuals — are the second largest state employment sector.
Nearly ten percent of state employees across the country work in corrections. Public health and welfare are prominent employment sectors, as is street and highway management. Financial administration deals with the proper allocation and accounting of state revenues — in essence, the maintenance of fiscal accountability. Natural resource management accounts for roughly three percent of state employment. Average salaries are determined by studying total annual payroll in state employment sectors and dividing by the number of employees in that sector.
It is admittedly a rough measure, but nonetheless provides interesting evidence. On average, the top salaried positions at the state level tend to be in science- and engineering-intensive professional fields. Electric power, air transportation, transit and sewerage are employment sectors that usually entail substantial engineering and physical science education.
If the reader wishes to pursue a well paying position in state government, it would behoove them to consider pursuing math and science education. Training in criminal justice or law is also of great value in terms of well-compensated state employment. Elementary and secondary education employs nearly 55 percent of all local government employees. Police protection is the second largest employer, but at a drastically smaller portion of the local government sector — less than seven percent of local government employees work in police protection services.
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Other prominent employment sectors in local government are fire protection, public health, parks and recreation, and public welfare. General government administration accounts for three percent of local government positions. Criminal justice and legal training will also improve chances of gaining employment in high salaried local government jobs.
Fire protection increasingly requires a solid understanding of knowledge in the areas of criminal justice, Homeland security, emergency medical assistance, chemistry, biology, physics, health care, engineering, and material science, to name but a few of the areas of expertise. Education is not in the top ten of highest paying jobs in this sector at either the state or the local level. When governments are first developed, leaders define institutions. Later, it is institutions that define and often constrain leaders.
At the state and local level, for elected leadership, age old-institutional constraints shape and limit the choices possible. Governance is the regular decision-making, implementation, and evaluation of policies designed to ensure that public goods are effectively managed or delivered to citizens. The process of election and re-election also limits state and local elected leaders, often drawing them towards more partisan decision-making as they seek voter support and campaign contributions.
Administrative leaders do not face the same pressures as elected officials do. First, administrative leaders are chosen based on their tenure in administrative ranks and merit-based performance. Merit relates to the knowledge, skills, and demonstrated abilities of an individual in relation to a job description within an administrative organization.
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Second, administrative leaders are hired based on demonstrated merit, usually evaluated in relation to objective analysis of formal training, past experience, and performance on a job-related examination. Third, administrators are generally granted tenure , a limited property right to employment so long as their job performance remains satisfactory. For these reasons, administrators are often less distracted in the governance process; constrained by statutory and common law, administrators are usually guided by principles of justice in their decision-making rather than by partisanship.
Module 7 - Bureaucracy and Public Policy
Theoretically, administrators represent the interests of no single person or group of people; instead, they pursue politically neutral goals. In the process of serving the public interest, however, administrators come into contact with individuals and groups of individuals who have unique needs.
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In some cases, groups of individuals may attempt to influence administrative governance through appeals to elected administrators or through other forms of political pressure. In either case, administrators are ultimately driven to pursue the public interest, guided by a solid knowledge and understanding of statutory and common law. Statutes and common law are frequently silent on how day-to-day administrative governance should occur, and on what types of decisions should be made.
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In political decision-making, sources of guidance might be voter or campaign contributor preferences or even partisanship. In administrative decision making, legal precedents, administrative capacity, and a professional code of ethics are key sources of guidance in the governance process. Additionally, administrators function closely at the client-level, close to the consumer of a public service, placing them in good position to assess the intent of elected governing institutions in relation to statutory and common law constraints; administrators are often keenly aware of how governance decisions promote or detract from judicious outcomes.
Not all administrators serve so closely to citizen consumers.
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Over the course of a career, administrators are promoted from positions closely tied to a customer base into positions of senior administrator authority. The group with greater authority is generally composed of well-educated, long-serving, and tightly networked individuals.
Education is a product of formal training melded with years of practical experience. Long career service can be both beneficial and distracting, however. It is beneficial to the degree that administrators have a sense of what has worked and what has not worked in past attempts at policy innovation and governance. It is potentially distracting in the sense that long service is often associated with a more conservative or defensive stance, and resistance to pursue important and justifiable risks in governance — risks capable of producing positive results for communities.
Finally, long-serving administrators have had time to meet people, lots of people, and to cultivate trust and mutual respect through regular interaction. Administrators develop professional networks with elected leaders, interest and community group leaders, and other administrators. A solid network involves interactions with individuals and groups from different levels of government on an inter-jurisdictional basis.
Senior level administrators often have access to critical governing networks, greater knowledge, and more experience with day-to-day governing than do most politicians. Often decried by critics, state and local bureaucracy is very well-positioned to advance the core dimensions of sustainability. Bureaucracy has both the formal and informal structure to meet a complex set objectives effectively and efficiently. While traditional formal bureaucratic structures can be viewed as hierarchically organized, the day-to-day operations of bureaucrats tend increasingly towards network structures.
Additionally, the rise of e-government has streamlined bureaucratic processes and reduced costs at a time when costs are rising and demands on government are growing exponentially. Finally, bureaucracy is well-situated to meet the needs of sustainable governance because it is one of the few forms of government institutions that is designed to govern the commons, and whose basic premises focus on equitable distribution of public resources for the individual and collective benefit.
Elected branches of state and local government are frequently heavily influenced by the demands of a winning coalition, and the individuals and groups who gain the most influence over elected leaders or candidates for public office are the leading forces within those electoral coalitions. Finally, unlike the elected branches, public administration has a long-term commitment to creating a diverse workforce — a workforce that reflects the nature of a community in the grandest sense of the word.
Looking at the four major objectives of sustainability, as outlined in the first chapter of this book, it should be noted that the principles of sustainable governance are embedded in the basic principles and goals of numerous familiar bureaucratic agencies. Elected officials have, in many instances, created public institutions to meet the pressing issues of a society. Social objectives are often met through public health offices, social workers, K schools and universities, corrections agencies, labor bureaus, fish and wildlife agencies and a host of other bureaucratic offices.
In the current economic crises facing state and local governments across the country, politicians may propose increased investment in human capital and the building of strong social capital, but it is often the work of bureaucrats at the street level that turns those often high-minded goals into real world realities. If these real world efforts to promote the enhancement of human and social capital in the service of community sustainability are not being done by public servants operating by themselves, it is the work of thousands upon thousands of hard working, highly motivated volunteers who support the efforts of bureaucrats working in a variety of human capital-related initiatives and enterprises.
Sustainable economic activity is one of the core dimensions of sustainability and sustainable governance. Sustainability demands that the marketplace of the future offers high quality products produced with and made use of with low environmental impact and purchased at a reasonable cost. In many cases, this means that important trade-offs must be considered and managed effectively. Locally-grown food and locally-produced goods and services require that state and local workplace dynamics and market conditions must be understood and managed to ensure the goals of sustainability are achievable in a way that is least intrusive on individual economic freedom and liberty, but that simultaneously protects the interests of the broader community in both the short and long-term.
Environmental sustainability objectives are inextricably wedded to issues of economic sustainability. Again, bureaucratic agencies, often operating independently or semi-independently of the political process, who manage natural resources will be in forefront of public policy development.
State departments of forestry, state offices of environmental quality and workplace safety, water quality offices, fish and wildlife agencies and parks and recreation offices are examples of agencies seeking to meet the goals of environmental sustainability. The work of these agencies is often multi-agency in character, and increasingly involves the use of multi-party collaborative processes designed to find ways in a particular state or in a specific geographic area how productive economic activity can be sustained without undue harm occurring to environmental assets.
Finally, institutional objectives such as facilitating higher population density and reduced urban sprawl in metropolitan areas are often dealt with through the interaction between a multitude of municipal, county, and state planning offices. Bureaucrats and the bureaucratic agencies in which they work have the know-how, skills and time available to conduct the long range planning processes required to anticipate changes that could call into question the sustainability of communities.
Sustainability demands that state and local governments provide for adequate consideration of the needs of communities today and in the more distant future, and keep in mind the dictum that the current generation must not leave a diminished range of options to achieve prosperity, environmental health and social equity to the next generation.
The infrastructure redesign for the development of renewable energy systems, for instance, will require a century or longer commitment to a better way of providing energy to permit our way of life to endure. The planners of state and local government will play a critical role in the education of elected officials and the general public alike as to the need for such long-range investment in a sustainable future. When many students in political science think about post-graduate studies they typically think about law school.
This chapter has discussed many initiatives, policies and programs of state and local bureaucracies that contribute to sustainability. These include the use of e-government, networking, life-long learning for personnel, a diverse workforce that represents citizen diversity, and the strategic use of volunteers. State and local administrators are also reorganizing and reinventing government to improve program efficiencies, to harness resources outside government in the service of public policy goals, and to better facilitate the input of state-level interests, private sector groups, and the general public.
The propensity to adopt alternative institutional arrangements premised on decentralization, collaboration, and citizen participation is especially pronounced in the environmental and natural resources policy world.