Scope of Public Administration

The implementation of government policy and management of public programs makes up public administration. It entails implementing the policies and decisions made by the government. Public administration involves all government activities other than the legislative, judicial, and military functions at the federal, state, and local levels. Some key aspects of public administration include:
– Control of government operations and programs.
– Laws and policies implementation and evaluation.
– Administrative oversight and the monitoring of administrative agencies and personnel.
– Budgeting, revenue collection, and expenditures
– Provision of public services
– Interaction with elected officials and external stakeholders
One of the core purposes of public administration is to ensure the implementation of government policies and programs are effective, balanced, efficient, and ethical. Knowledge from Political science, management, law, economics, and other social sciences combine to achieve governmental goals in the public interest. An understanding of the scope and functions of a public administration helps in the appreciation of how the engine of daily government works.

Scope of Public Administration

The scope of public administration has been viewed from two different perspectives, namely. POSDCORB view and subject matter view. There is a view of public administration that can be defined as POSDCORB, which was advocated by Luther Gulick in the 1970s and summarized the scope of public administration. According to him, There are seven essential elements of administration. As a summary of these elements, he developed a small acronym called POSDCORB, which represents each element of administration with a different letter. Luther Gulick explains these seven elements of administration (or functions of the chief executive) in the following way:


◆◆Planning– This refers to the process of planning out in a broad outline what needs to be done in order for the business to accomplish the purpose that has been set for it, and the methods to achieve this purpose.

◆◆Organization– This is a process by which a formal authority structure is outlined, through which sub-divisions of work are defined and coordinated by a central authority in order to achieve the objective identified.

◆◆Staffing– The term “Staffing” refers to the entire process of bringing in and training new employees as well as maintaining positive conditions of work while the staff is being trained to perform their jobs.

◆◆Directing– It is a continuous task within which decisions are continually made, and these decisions are written down in specific and general orders and instructions to be followed by leaders of the organization.

◆◆Coordination– It is on the top of the importance list and this is the part of the work which needs to be interconnected between various sections.

◆◆Reporting– It is the process of keeping the executive’s management informed about what is going on in the company, while they are accountable for it. Maintain records, research, and inspections to keep oneself and subordinates informed.

◆◆Budgeting  It is all that goes with budgeting, including fiscal planning, accounting and control, and all the other technical terms related to this.

Subject Matter View

The reaction, though, came against this view over time, and the Subject Matter view was acceptable for quite a long period. However, it was realized later on that POSDCORB activities (techniques) are neither the whole public administration nor the major part of it. This opinion argues that the problems of administration are the same in all the agencies regardless of the peculiar nature of the functions. This, therefore, ignores the fact that different administrative agencies experience different problems. Additionally, the POSDCORB is only about the administrative tools and the subject of administration is something else. The actual gist of administration is comprised of different services rendered to people such as defense, health, agriculture, education, social security, etc. These services have their unique specialised methods which are not covered by the POSDCORB techniques. Translated, each administrative agency’s ‘local POSDCORB’ is due to what the agency deals with. Moreover, Gulick’s methods of POSDCORB are also shaped by the topic of the administration (i.e., activities and services they operate).

Thus the POSDCORB view is ‘technique-oriented rather than ‘subject-oriented; that is, it ignores the essential component of public administration which is knowledge of the subject matter. Therefore, the subject matter scope of public administration emerged. It focuses on what the agency did and the services rendered. This means that the substantive problem of the agency is a function of its subject matter (services and functions). Hence, in order to learn the fundamentals of public administration, it is important to study both the technical requirements of administration as well as the substantive concerns of administration. There is no contradiction between the POSDCORB view and the subject matter view, they are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. As a whole, they represent the proper scope within which public administration should be studied. As Lewis Meriam rightly said, “Public administration is an instrument with two blades, similar to a pair of scissors,” he meant. The first blade should be knowledge of the fields covered by POSDCORB, while the second blade should be knowledge of the subject matter to which these techniques are applied. M.E. According to Dimock, “Administration is concerned with what and how the government does.” In order for an effective tool to function, both blades must be good.” “The “what” is the subject, the technical knowledge of a field, which enables the administrator to complete his duties. Essentially, the “how” is a technique for managing cooperative programs, the principles that guide them toward success. Each of these principles is essential, together they form the synthesis known as administration.”