Citizen Participation and the Importance of Public Administration

Public administration and Citizen Participation - this is the importance of public administration essay in which this connection will be revealed.

Citizen participation also known as citizen involvement, public participation and civic participation is a broad term, all similar yet are different definitions. Citizen participation is done in four ways citizen action, citizen involvement, citizen surveys and electoral participation. Citizen participation in the United States is less than fifty years old and is an important tool for impacting democratic values. In ways such as transferring effective powers to the powerless , used for increasing trust in the government and a way to increase communication between government and public citizens. There have been doubts that citizen participation programs have instead cause the opposite of participation and instead efforts have been “failures, manipulative and counterproductive to policy makers”. Such failures are citizen participation is seen as both unrealistic and idealistic. In such a way that the argument is public problems are broad and too complex for the general public who lack the knowledge, skills and time for public participation. Additionally public problems are viewed as requiring expertise that the general public lacks. Others argue that public participation is a waste of time and that that the government does not have the money to facilitate public involvement beyond the minimum legal requirement.

Citizen participation is important because the greater involvement by citizen the better it is for government to assess government accountability and taxpayer’s satisfaction. This done by the “collection, analysis and the dissemination and proper consumption of performance measurement data” as a tool in measuring citizen participation. The participation of citizens is important to the government because it is used as a tool by applicable government employees’ i.e. government planners and programs managers by helping them measure taxpayer’s priorities and preferences pertaining to government policies. Secondly this citizen participation is important because it can provide government employees with feedback about ongoing government polices while simultaneously increasing credibility of government reports regarding operations of current policy.

Citizen participation by most scholars is traced back to the mid 1930’s by actions of government agents such as the Department of Agriculture. In the 1930’s the Department of Agriculture made an effort to involve local farmers in the decision making process, by the 1940’s nearly 900, 00 rural citizens were serving on different agricultural committees. This was known as the “New Democracy of Agriculture'. This new democracy brought about great expectation because local farmers would lead farmers from afar who were a little hesitant to grassroots in becoming more involved in agricultural policies that would affect them. This was the first step in the concept “that people must participate actively in development of their natural resources”. This is the beginning of the newer process mention before. But may have originated with something as small as this, Department of Agriculture worked closely with local organizations power and electric companies tied to local government and State Department of Agriculture on a fertilizer test demonstration with local farmers to provide better farming practices. This in turn resulted in one farmer showing another farmer the better farming practices which would then spread throughout the state.

There are difference concepts and dimensions non-government officials participating in government according to Yang and Callahan. The different definitions are Citizen Participation, Public Participation, Political Participation and Civic Participation. These definitions are all different yet very similar. Of all the definitions Public Participation is more extensive concept, meaning the public participation in nongovernmental groups such as media and other nongovernment social groups. 

Modern-day administration can however be divided into two types. The first of which is the private administration. It is defined as management and organization of private business enterprises. It is an administrative function carried out by the private individuals or a group, to earn a profit. It is a business activity which is non-political in nature and involves a series of activities like planning, organising, controlling, coordinating, and implementing policies and programs, carried out by the organization’s management. The alternative form of this kind of administration is the public administration. It can be defined as a field of study that is concerned with the systematic application of public policies and programmes formulated by the state relating to the administrative functions carried out by the government; and focuses on providing services to the general public, to ensure a good and safe life to people. It is a non-political public bureaucracy that operates within the legal framework and deals with the objectives of the government, the public interests and laws; covering all the branches of the government as well as their relationship with each other.

The public administration has several roles in modern-day state affairs. A state is a nation or territory that is taken to be an organized political society under one government; and a government is simply a system by which a state or community is governed. A government can be present even in the absence of a legislature or independent judiciary but a government will not be able to exist without an administration. It is the role of the government therefore to preserve the collective identity of the people. Polity refers to the body of people belonging to a particular group or state; and this role is used by political leaders to run a government and manage all developmental projects. As stated before, Community development for a long time has been the core vision of local governments, planning boards, businesses, and civic groups, but public administration also has a role to play. The community is developed through a web of stakeholders—residents, business owners, developers, and so on—each with different needs and goals. Public administrators support and network between stakeholders, allowing them to address the details that improve a community (economics, housing, social and medical services). Public administrators facilitate activity by creating networks within multi-organizational partnerships. For example, a public administrator working in community development might hold a position in city or county government and be tasked with researching and implementing programs that promote economic mobility and offer government grants or loans to members of women’s or minority organizations. 

Another essential role of the administration is to ensure that the citizens of the state are afforded the opportunity to participate in the decision making of the country. Citizens should be afforded genuine participation in the economy as well. There are a number of ways in which the administration can do this but the most efficient way to provide the citizens with free, fair and unbiased elections. An electoral system is a set of rules on how votes are converted into seats for political or civil authority. The purpose of the electoral system is to translate the will of the people to decide on who should be President, Members of Parliament, Mayors/Council Chairpersons and Councillors. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) was established in 1996 and since then, it has overseen five general elections in the country. The ECZ is an independent and autonomous body that instructs its officials to examine and scrutinize all the information relating to the electoral processes in the country. They also sensitize the eligible members of the public on how to vote in an election and make the weary of the many malpractices that are present in modern day elections as well as their consequences; should an individual choose to break the electoral laws. They also check that the political parties that are eligible or that have registered to participate for an election work within the guidelines that the constitution has set as well as the Electoral Code of Conduct (ECC).

In conclusion, Public Administration plays a key role for society as well as for Citizen Participation. 

10 October 2022
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