Submitted to meet course requirements of “Introduction to Public Administration” at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration
In this week’s abbreviated reading list, Holzer and Shwester (2016) laid out the different theories and styles of leadership, described the relationship between technology and administration, and discussed public service in popular culture. The supplemental article discussed the emergence and future of e-governance (Brown, 2005). Since I discussed my reaction to the leadership readings in the discussion forum for this course, I will use this space to discuss my reaction to the readings about technology and e-governance.
Technology has found its way into every facet of life for almost everyone in the West. Public administration seems to be the perfect candidate for implementation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) because public administrators seek efficiency. The advent of e-mail, word processing software, internet-based meeting software, webinars, and myriad other technologies allow administrators to do much more work in much less time than in years past. Every governmental agency in the United States has some form of computer database and interacts with the public through a website.
As Brown (2005) discussed, self-service is an “integral part of the citizen-centered model” (p. 248). I rely heavily on technology. As a New York City resident and an employee of a New York City based organization, I interact with government on a regular basis. Before the city implemented the 311 system (discussed by Holzer and Shwester in Chapter 12) I would routinely spend hours on the telephone being transferred to many different departments where no one wanted to help. Now I can call 311 where an agent will take my information, send me an e-mail with a confirmation number, and I would get an e-mail with a resolution. This is truly a great example of how e-government can be useful.
I would like to see a future where e-voting can become part of American democracy. However, it seems like we have a long way to go before people will trust such a system. Even the government has issues with security. How will public administrators and governments solve the problems related to security while trying to innovate technology? Since information and knowledge hold such great power, how will we prevent the exploitation of technology for criminal purposes? The answers to these questions seem difficult to attain.
Brown, D. (2005). Electronic government and public administration. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 71(2), 241–254. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852305053883
Holzer, M., & Schwester, R. W. (2016). Public Administration: An Introduction (2nd Ed.). New York: Routledge.