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The five core values of public administration

Core values is a broad phrase to describe the standards by which we characterize a person, profession, or organization. Throughout the course of brainstorming and analyzing my professional experience, I have settled on a set of five values that are most important in public administration. In order to achieve success at a personal and organizational level in the public sector, these values must be practiced on a daily basis.

To practice transparency in public administration is to ensure citizens the availability of information which is deemed public. This should be an organizational goal, and is to be taken into account when conducting all public business regardless of one’s job title. If the goal of an organization is to serve the citizens to the best of their ability, then avoiding or failing to achieve transparency would cause significant damage to the relationship between them and the people they are aiming to serve.

Accountability is to adhere to a standard of professionalism in the workplace. Additionally, it means to understand that our professional activities are being funded by the citizens of this country. As such, public employees are held responsible by citizens for upholding the mission of their organization. Accountability is an important aspect of the functionality of any organization public or private. Essentially, it reminds individuals that while they are employed by a professional organization they will be held liable for their actions.

Each public administrator is asked to adhere to a code of ethics. In order to function properly as an organization, the administrator must be held to a high degree of ethical standards. Specifically, ethics calls for administrators to display integrity, and be mindful of laws and regulations. Furthermore, this must be accomplished in order to successfully practice and promote transparency of government. Unfortunately, the importance of ethics in government is usually shown when public officials violate laws or regulations. Because of these instances, we are constantly reminded of the importance of ethics in public administration.

Professionalism is an important core value when considering the prestigious nature of our positions in the field of public administration. In essence, administrators are hired to be visionaries, in addition to being stewards of public funds and information. To be professional is to understand the importance of our jobs in the public sector, to have respect for ourselves and the organizations that we represent, and to act accordingly. Each individual is to deal with issues, whether positive or negative, in a mild and straightforward manner whenever possible. Without professionalism in public administration, the overall perception of our work and our organizations would undoubtedly falter.

Finally, there are few organizations in the public sector that are able to flourish without proper leadership. Practicing leadership is setting an example of professionalism for staff members and possessing the motivation to achieve organizational goals. In doing so, leaders must have the ability to recognize the talents of individuals and allow those talents to be utilized for the betterment of the organization. Admittedly, leadership can become a balancing act between becoming an active team member and taking charge of overall operations. As a leader, it is of utmost importance to stay connected with staff members, but to act in a managerial role when called upon.

In summary, I have chosen five values that I believe to be relevant in the public sector. These values are also a focal point when reflecting on the successes of public organizations in the past. Upon completing my analysis I have determined that the five most important core values of public administration are transparency, accountability, ethics, professionalism, and leadership.

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Philip L. Hoffman

I would just add that I think these are applicable to anyone in a public organization – not just those in a managerial or designated “leadership” position. That said, the federal government has been really slow to adapt to, mush less foster, systems, business practices and internal cultures that will bring these five traits into common practice.

Philippe Vermeulen

Interesting topic. In the European oublic administration culture, the emphasis is put on principles as (1) predictability and reliability (to express the legal certaintly for both citizens and civil servants), (2) openness and transparency, (3) accountability and (4) efficiency and effectiveness.. Those principles are largely the result of the jurisprudence of the European Court who has defined a large number of
administrative law principles by making reference to the general legal principles of administrative law common to the Member States, in an ongoing process. Particularly important principles set forth in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, which all Member countries must in turn apply domestically when applying EC Law, are, among others: the principle of administration through law; the principles of proportionality, legal certainty, protection of legitimate expectations, non-discrimination, the right to a hearing in administrative decision-making procedures, interim relief, fair conditions for access of individuals to administrative courts, non-contractual liability of the public administration.
An interesting paper on that can be found in a SIGMA- document entitled “EUROPEAN PRINCIPLES FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION” (to be found on http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/nispacee/unpan006804.pdf

Amani Julius Mazira jr

I agree with you without transparency ,accountability, code of ethics ,professionalism , as well as proper leadership the government become slow to implement their policy.and this is become the major challenge to many African countries as well as to my country Tanzania where leaders tend to intimidate the majority as the means of ruling instead of using their professional to manage the mass.