Problems In Public Administration
With the recent increasing cases of embezzlement and misuse of public funds, the common citizen is keen on the public accountability and how public funds are allocated to ensure that there are transparency and accountability in all transactions. This study covers misuse of public resources as one of the major issues in public administration. The study also states the possible challenges that a country is likely to encounter as a result of ignorance of proper administrative policies in the public sector. The paper goes on to state that the lack of proper and appropriate public accountability results in the economic degradation of a country apart from economic stagnation. The solutions for misuse of funds have been outlined, and recommendations are given on to help in enhancing the performance of the public sector through effective and efficient policies. Accountability and transparency are key values that promote effectiveness and efficiency in public administration.
Public administration deals with the organization of government policies and programs and the conduct of public officials who are responsible for the provision of administrative services to the general public. As a result, for high levels and accountability in the public sector, there is the need for strict adherence to all public policies, rules, and regulations. The study analyzes the problem of misuse of funds as well as poor public accountability and transparency in public administration with the hope of providing some of the possible solutions to the proper utilization of financial resources (Shafritz, Russell, Borick, & Hyde, 2017). The paper reveals the consequences of the challenge to the public and gives some solutions to the challenge. Various problems may arise as a result of misuse of public funds such as problems in sustainability and the provision of effective and efficient services to the citizens. The common citizen is increasingly becoming aware of his rights and may punish corrupt and unaccountable public officers by not voting them into office during elections. Therefore, public administrators are increasingly paying more attention to public accountability and equal, efficient and effective distribution of public resources. The study concludes that proper management of funds may be possible if a coherent strategy that will involve social, economic and environmental problems are all put into consideration (Stecher, 2010). Additionally, integration and cooperation in the public sector, public administrators can effectively and efficiently manage public finances and resources.
Public administration refers to the analysis and implementation government policy, management of public programs, the paper of government decision-making and the translation of politics into reality. Most of the unelected officials such as head of city, county, regional, state and federal departments form part and parcel of the public administration in a country. The role of public servants and administrators is to evaluate and analyze public policies so that they can be designed and implemented in the right context and are eventually implemented as policies that benefit the entire population (Africa Centre for Open Governance, 2010). Public administrators are primarily public servants whose main roles and responsibilities are seen across all government departments and agencies as they represent their will and needs of the common people on the ground. In the government sector, public administrators are required for any organizations and every level. Notably, public administration functions in a political setting for the accomplishment and attainment of the goals and objectives which are designed and implemented by political decision makers. Therefore, it is correct to state that public administration can also be defined as public bureaucracy as it emphasizes on the bureaucratic and administrative organization of the government (Shafritz, Russell, Borick, & Hyde, 2017).
The government of any state or nation is entrusted with billions of money and resources of public funds for its utilization and management. Therefore, it has a duty and responsibility to account for these resources and to exploit them following the wishes of people and without excess. Extravagance or wastage. The government should answer to the people through the parliament on how it has discharged this duty. Furthermore, the public authority has a role to make sure that the financial resources are well managed. The use of the public funds is determined by electoral programs and surveys to satisfy the needs and demands of the common citizens in the country or state. Human needs are unlimited, and they progress as the society progresses with new necessities arising (Zastrow, 2014). The local authorities are supposed to meet these needs so if the finances are not properly utilized a country may get its self into a large mess of financial crises. The needs for public services are unlimited, and sometimes the common citizens are forced to look for alternative funds through borrowing to finance the delivery of public services and economic development in the local areas. Lack of transparency and accountability is one of the major reasons for the misuse of funds. Individuals will use funds for building their emperors because they are aware that no one will ask them to account for the public resources. The authorities, particularly the parliament, which is in charge of making sure public funds are accounted for fails to do careful planning of the use of the available funds, and they end up using them on unplanned projects will not be very beneficial to the communities. Inadequate support from payment structures adopted by the public administration as well as the implementation of unsupportive financial reporting policies could lead to failures and, consequently, could result in additional challenges to the government in meeting the needs of its people (Girasa, 2013).
Related: Budgeting system
Public resources play a crucial role in the growth and development of a region or a country which calls for attention from different researchers and people in the society who are concerned with public accountability. Public accountability can be described as the core part of contemporary democratic governance. While democracy remains a paper procedure, it is the duty of the parliament to make sure that the government and other public service agencies are held accountable for their actions and activities, for their decisions, their practices and expenditure. Changing how public services and resources are held to account should be the primary objective of any government. Transparency, choice, competition, payment by results and election of local officials are intended to bring in a new system of democratic accountability (Girasa, 2013). The financial problems and mismanagement of public resources are also as a result of lack of clear objectives by the government and lack of time for critical and strategic auditing to ensure that every cent of the public funds are accounted for. When a government has objectives set in place to be achieved funds will not be mismanaged because every single cent will be allocated for a specific task. Poor strategic planning makes the government authorities and agencies loose focus on the plans of a country and it leads to misuse of funds, particularly in the event that the urgent needs of the public have been met. Therefore, the remaining public resources with no needs to be fulfilled often end up in the pockets of the few public administrators chosen to oversee public projects, growth and development. Additionally, lack of coherence across the government and poor communication between public administration departments may lead to misuse of funds considering that lack of collaboration and cooperation can significantly affect the performance and workings of the government to achieve predetermined goals and objectives. As a result, the public funds will be scattered all over as different groups will demand funds to carry out their projects and such scattering of funds and lack of a clear strategic plan leads to lack of accountability (Africa Centre for Open Governance, 2010).
The importance of public accountability
Public accountability is largely manifested in two different forms in the public administration, and they include fiscal and social accountability. Notably, each form of public accountability conveys particular rules that are unique and distinct from each other and are regulated differently through administrative laws. Understanding the issue of mismanagement of public funds by the government authorities helps audit firms and individuals to analyze the impacts of poor public accountability to a country’s economic status and also to the living standards of individual citizens in a country. A nation or a state that has many public resource mismanagement and misuse end up being in a state of economic crises considering that it uses more money and resources than it can generate and may depend on grants and borrowing both internally and externally to fund its expenditure and operations (Craig, Amernic, & Tourish, 2014). Dependence on developed countries that perform economically and socially through better and proper use of funds taints the image and picture of a country, the government and the people in that country. Public resources may be misused by a few people who may be entrusted high and superior positions, making it difficult for the low management officers as well as low-level public servants to uphold the standard accountability and transparency levels in their daily operations. Such a condition adversely affects the local people and the impacts for such acts may be felt in the future by the whole nation. Such crises may lead to an economic breakdown of a country’s economy as well as making it hard for the local authorities to meet the needs and demands of the local people (Steets, 2010). This can create a negative image which in turn affects the people perspective and confidence in a country’s government and public administration. While the common citizens use different means to express their desperation and displeasure because of lack of accountability of public administration, the most common manner to express their frustration is through voting out corrupt and non-accountable public servants.
If used properly, efficiently and effectively public resources enhance the development of projects and to create job opportunities for the growing population of a country thus positively affecting the long-term future of a country both socially and economically. Good use of financial resources leads to improved living standards as a result of improved social amenities, availability of high-quality health facilities and improved infrastructure (Steets, 2010). Well-equipped health facilities make sure that the person’s health standard of the members of the public is catered for, and therefore people are energetic and in good health to participate in the growth and development of their own country. Social amenities enhance the creativity of both employed and unemployed population by assisting them to generate business ideas that may help them earn a living. An economically stable economy will eventually attract both domestic and foreign investments who significantly contribute to the generation of both products and services thus contributing to economic growth and development. Investors provide new products and services in the economy, thus increasing employment opportunities in the region, which in turn reduces the unemployment rate in a region. However, if the public administration fails to provide the necessary social amenities that encourage investments, both local and foreign investors may be scared away (Zastrow, 2014).
The public administration can management of public resources, thus minimizing if not eliminating misuse of public resources in all public offices by having public services customized to the needs and demands of the citizens. The citizens of a country are the most important stakeholders when it comes to public administration. Therefore, their needs and demands should be prioritized through a strategic and clear social and financial plan. Therefore, the funds should be strictly allocated to a particular need or demand to solve to provide the much-needed facility or service such as infrastructures (Ball & Osborne, 2011). However, there should be a follow-up plan and proper measurement scale to measure the quality of the services provided to ensure that the funds allocated to provide the service or facility are effectively and efficiently used and can be accounted for. Periodic reports should be written for accountability purposes, and the general public should be made aware of that the government will be provided so that if the people assigned to work fail to do so, a stern corrective action can be taken against them. A reform strategy should be improved through the decentralization of the public services and deconcentrating on public services which ensures that there is an enhancement of the relationship between the public service and citizen (Ball & Osborne, 2011).
Additionally, the government should use automated accounting to record all the financial transaction taking place in an office minimize chance of error and misuse of funds and resources. Additionally, the redefinition of the objectives and clarification of the right skills for the different positions of the public organizations can help improve the allocation strategies by ensuring that public needs are prioritized in their order of urgency and importance. Self-generated income should be encouraged by encouraging entrepreneurship in a country to enhance the financial autonomy (Craig, Amernic, & Tourish, 2014). A well-defined legal framework should also be developed, and a uniform set of rules governing the investment and use of funds should be set to minimize the misuse of funds.
Recommendation for the solution
The government should design and implement a strong financial to ensure that the finances are used for the right purposes and that any person suspected or caught misusing the public funds should be held accountable for his or her actions. Experts in financial management should be employed to manage the finances and fairly compensated to avoid the temptation of stealing from the people. The funds should be fairly allocated to all the sectors to ensure that all people benefit and that every institution has the right facilities that will enhance its growth (Craig, Amernic, & Tourish, 2014). The government should completely fight corruption in the public sector.
Issues in public administration should be handled with the seriousness they deserve for they touch matter the lives of people in a country. Misuse of public funds can ruin a country by bringing its economy to a standstill. Public officials should be held accountable for their actions. Notably, the government should use strong accounting and management tools to ensure that there is mismanagement of funds and that all public resources are properly utilized.
Africa Centre for Open Governance. (2010). Free for all?: Misuse of public funds at the Electoral Commission of Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: AfriCOG.
Ball, A., & Osborne, S. P. (2011). Social accounting and public management: Accountability for the common good. New York: Routledge.
Craig, R., Amernic, J., & Tourish, D. (2014). Perverse Audit Culture and Accountability of the Modern Public University. Financial Accountability & Management, 30(1), 1-24. doi:10.1111/faam.12025
Girasa, R. (2013). Corporate Governance in the United States. Corporate Governance and Finance Law, 41-95. doi:10.1057/9781137345431_2
Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., Borick, C. P., & Hyde, A. C. (2017). Introducing Public Administration. Milton: Taylor and Francis.
Stecher, B. M. (2010). Toward a culture of consequences: Performance-based accountability systems for public services. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.
Steets, J. (2010). Accountability in public policy partnerships. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Zastrow, M. (2014). Critics allege misuse of funds by US ecology project. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2014.16498
Related: Accountability and Ethical Conduct