Quality in the Public Sector (Essential Skills for the Public Sector)
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It meant formulating a new corporate strategy. From to , IBM did just what a well-managed corporation is supposed to do.
It achieved its purpose—gaining leadership in the industry. There fore, it met the test of effectiveness.
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In addition, during that decade its executives, other employees, and shareholders profited. Therefore, it met the test of efficiency.
Having managed to meet both tests, management was above challenge for its choice of a new strategy and the time required to carry out the strategy. The IBM example typifies our expectations of business in general. But what of management in the public sector? The late Professor Wallace S.
But when we get to the content of those words, the similarity ends. Like a business, a public organization is expected to serve society. But without a market to determine effectiveness, the process of measuring becomes diffuse and complex. Moreover, if the executives of an effective public organization distribute the surplus resources they control that is, the excess of revenues over expenditures among the executives whose skills produce the surplus, the officials are put in jail when apprehended. What does purpose mean in the public sector? As in the private sector, the administrative motive is self-interest, but the stated organizational motive is not.
The neat relationship between the external view of an organization in terms of its accomplishments and the internal view of administrative arrangements is shattered. Though it may motivate administrative success, self-interest is considered venal. Moreover, the chief executive in a public organization may have no presumptive right to set purpose; it may be given by legislation. Still more difficult to cope with is the fact that the changes in formal organization and systems that are the principal sources of managerial influence in large corporations are only marginally available to the public executive and can only be used at considerable political cost.
The structure of public agencies is usually dictated by legislation. Furthermore, the selection and compensation of people, an important business tool, is almost universally controlled by a civil service system. However management in the public sector is defined and delineated, it differs from corporate management in several important ways. Public sector managers frequently must:. Let us examine some realities of public management and see how important these differences can be.
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To begin, consider the contrast in behavior of public and private executives on assuming office. The private manager is usually promoted from within the organization. Doing so is customarily his first move. Almost without exception, he makes changes among the key people reporting to him and modifies their jobs. In contrast, one can describe public officials as outsiders who enter office with cherished policy objectives, accomplish little, and leave office with unfulfilled desires for structural reform; for, in order to accomplish important political objectives having to do with due process and responsiveness to the electorate, the United States has very nearly denied the public executive the tools of management.
How, then, can the public manager accomplish his or her ends? Since this share cannot include the profits of government, he usually seeks such goals as salary, the perquisites of office, and the intangible rewards of serving the public. The intangible rewards may be ephemeral or real, but ideologically they are as important in the public sector as the profit motive is in business.
The intangibles include influencing policy, changing the direction of events, and helping others. Common to all of them is the pleasure of exercising power usefully.
Power is a necessary element of effectiveness and a reward for efficiency. Thought of as the ability to influence outcomes, power has both short-term and long-term dimensions. This prospect will be the result of increased respect for his personal capability or of his participation in important coalitions.
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But how does he get things done when the usual sources of managerial influence in the private sector are not available? Part of the answer is illustrated by the comments of Gordon Chase, the widely respected former administrator of the New York City Health Service Administration. Reflecting on his approach to that task, Chase said:. Some of them I could have a large impact on; others I could not change.
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One characteristic of these types of problems is that they have usually been ignored by the health establishment. One of my first objectives was to fix that deficiency or begin to fix it, and in fixing it, to drag in by some means the health establishment. Eventually, that was done through the contract mechanism. One was our conscious decision to try to involve the whole medical establishment. While roughly one-third of all the health services in New York are delivered by the public sector, the largest part is still provided by the voluntary hospitals or private sector.
Involving the voluntary sector also gave me a basis to measure the performance of the municipal sector with. When we started the methadone program, we wanted to get under way very fast.
It was clear to me that if we had run it as a city operation, it would have been impossibly slow to set up. We would have to go to the Bureau of the Budget and the Department of Purchasing for everything.
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We would run into problems like not being able to pay doctors enough to do the job. We would encounter the usual incredible amount of red tape. There was a bad distribution of hospitals and doctors. I could do something about this problem but not much. They affected enormous numbers of people, directly and indirectly, but the medical establishment in the past had often ignored them. These inefficiencies affected mostly poor people. This was the whole problem of rising health care costs.
The system for delivering health care in New York City had the wrong goals, functioned irrationally and inefficiently, and was becoming very costly. But the problem on which Chase had to operate lay substantially beyond the boundaries of his agency, large as it was. The time horizon of the public administrator is far shorter than that of the traditional corporate manager. IBM had about a decade to establish the computer series, as we saw earlier. In , George Romney, then president of American Motors, admitted that it had taken him seven years working within his company and seven years selling in the market to make the idea of a Detroit-made compact car acceptable.
Fourteen years! In retrospect, we see that even more time was needed. Why so little time for such complex tasks? Our system of appointed administrators gives the chief executive responsibility in operating agencies to men and women whose tenure is tied to the elected executive who appointed them. We will come back to Chase later. Now let us consider the reflections of another former government executive. William Ruckelshaus, appointed the first head of the U. Environmental Protection Agency EPA in November , began his administration as Chase did, talking to a great many people and trying to get a sense of direction.
Similarly, he found many of the operations inappropriately focused. In an interview, he spoke sharply of the importance of his time horizon:. There was going to come a time—if you read the Clean Air Act, this was in January , right after it passed—that [the auto companies] were going to come ask me for some more time [to comply with the emission standards].