[Topic 07] Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Inside Public Bureaucracy

Justin Columba F. Agraviador


This paper is based on Richard J. Stillman’s book about public administration. I will discuss to you one of the myriads of topics involving public administration – that is the identifiable clusters of individuals who work and act in an influential way inside the bureaucracy. I will discuss the different subsystems of clusters of individuals inside the bureaucracy and how they perform different tasks in the government. Below are the different subsystems that will guide our discussion through out this paper:

Political appointees
Professional careerist
General civil service
Unionized workers
Contractual employees

I will go through the discussion using the comparative analysis framework in order to give us a better understanding on how each subsystem competes within the bureaucracy and how they overlap through the doctrine of blending of powers. I shall give to you practical examples and applications based on Philippine politics. Stillman’s book is about US bureaucracy thus all his examples are irrelevant to the national bureaucracy of the Philippines which don’t adhere to federalism.

Moving on to our fist subsystem, the political appointees… Generally the political appointees serve without security of tenure. But the more legal approach is that they also enjoy security tenure subject however to the determination of the appointing authority on his discretion to fix the expiration of the tenure of the appointee. In other words the appointee is not terminated arbitrarily or without a just cause but it is due to the fact that his term expires on the discretion of the appointing authority. This is the reason why Stillman refer to them as birds of passage because their tenure lies within the pleasure of the appointing authority. This political appointees however enjoy the top level policy making position in the government. Thus due to the vast powers their position enjoy they are appointed by virtue of trust or confidence of the appointing authority. There is a fiduciary relationship between the appointee and the appointer. The Cabinet Secretaries for instance were appointed by the President and assume their posts at the pleasure of the President. The doctrine of qualified political agency wherein the Secretaries where considered alter ego of the President springs from the fiduciary relations and trust between them. That is why more often than not the political appointees are members of the same political party the appointer belongs.

To have an in depth analysis of this subsystem, let me give to you the different types of political appointees as to level of trust between the appointee and appointer. The first type is the Inner Cabinet. In the Philippines, this composed of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Budget, the Excutive Secretary, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and the Secretary of Justice. In line with these includes the AFP Chief of Staff and PNP Director. They are the defenders of major policies of the President and more often appear in the legislative inquiries of the Senate or the House to aid them in legislation on matters concerning their departments. An important note is that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of Defense, and the APF Chief of Staff shall not be denied access to the President in times of his illness under our 1987 Constitution. The second type is the Outer Cabinet. They are charge with running major public agencies which are somehow ministerial or less political in nature such as Secretary of Health, the Secretary of Social Welfare, and the Secretary of Tourism. Though they enjoy the same legal status with the Inner Cabinet the functions of their office goes below the functions of the Inner Cabinet such as defense, security, and foreign affairs. The third type is the sub-Cabinet. These are the undersecretaries and the heads or chairmen of different bureaus such as MMDA, SBMA etc. The fourth type are the advisors to the Secretaries or Chairmen of different bureaus, and agencies. The fifth type of political appointee based on Stillman’s is not applicable to Philippine bureaucracy. The fifth type is based on US 1978 Civil Service Reformed Act.

The second subsystem in our guide list is the Professional Careerist. From the name itself, these are group of personnel with specialized expertise within their specific fields. The nature of the job implies a highly technical skill and requires and advanced professional training. These professional however unlike the political appointees enjoys security of tenure and does serve for the pleasure or trust of the appointer cannot be remove from office except for a just or authorized causes. Examples of these are the doctors of the government owned and controlled hospitals such as PGH, scientists in PHILVOCS, engineers of DPWH, surveyors of Bureau of Lands, state prosecutors and provincial prosecutors, etc. These are permanent clusters of powerful experts as Stillman refer them because they remain in their post regardless of a change in administration or presidency. Again to further broaden our analysis regarding this subsystem let me give to you the its different types. First type is the professional elites. These are the senior and most respected members of their profession. They are the consultants who occupy top professional posts. Just below them is the line professional which is the second type. This includes professionals which are subordinates of the professional elites such as interns in the hospitals under the supervision of elite consultant doctors. Third type is the staff professional. This includes professionals which work is not directly related to the undertaking of the agency or department he is employed such as a lawyer in a banking institutions such as Land Bank or doctors in the military such as in V. Luna. Fourth type is the administrative professional. This is often called as the logistics. They are in charge of budget, purchasing, auditing, and supplies. Fifth is the paraprofessional. This includes personnel which lacks professional expertise but performs the jobs of the professionals. These are the care-givers which perform the works of a nurse and a physical therapist in the hospitals. They are employed as cost cutting scheme of the bureaucracy.

The general civil service subsystem is the third subsystem in our guide list. This operates under merit system concepts as the basis of promotion or hiring. They also enjoy the same security of tenure with the professional elites however this subsystem stresses rank in position rather than rank in person. Meaning the position itself vests your rank. If your ousted from your office so is your rank unlike the professional elite which adheres to rank in person meaning even though you are ousted or removed form the office you retain your rank such when the Captain of Philippine Army is removed as the Company Commander he still remains to be a Captain even though he was transferred to Canine Unit. In professional elite though there is diminution of the job from being a Company Commander to a Dog Trainer in Canine Unit the rank of Captain still remains. This is not the case in general civil service which adheres to rank in position. In the Philippines government employees were covered by the Civil Service Law experienced common problems such as incompetence. I believe that the civil service exams should be raised to an optimum level to increase competence of the civil servants.

The fourth subsystem is the unionized subsystem. These are the blue collar and white collar workers whose employment is based upon negotiated contracts between union representatives and managements within the jurisdiction they serve. This subsystem is inapplicable to the Philippines because our Labor Code states that it is inapplicable to government employees. Government employees generally are under the Civil Service Law. Plus, there is no employer – employee relations when it comes to government employees. The terms of employment by government employees are governed by law not by contracts. Important thing to note is that although government employees have the right to form and join unions they cannot however have a right to strike because their office is imbued by public functions which should not be suspended or prejudiced the people by strike or work stoppage.

Last subsystem is the contractual employees. Stillman define this as untenured workers whose employment with the government is directly or indirectly governed by various contractual agreements with individuals, private firms, non-profit organizations, and universities for rendering specific services for a limited specified time. They are not governed by civil service rules nor do they work under union contracts. Again this definition is inapplicable to the Philippines. Contractual employees still enjoys security of tenure during the contract exists. In the Philippines the contractual employees serves as a decoy for the appointer to employ ghost employees for corruption purposes. A lot of municipalities, cities, and government agencies have contractual employees. If examined carefully there are a lot contractual employees which should not be renewed employment due to redundancy. There are too much unnecessary contractual employees. The reason is plain politicking or giving favors for election purposes.

Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration

An Idiot's Guide on "Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration: The Concept of Competing Bureaucratic Subsystems"

Rafi B. Madueño
2004-09395



"Our public bureaucracy is composed of identifiable clusters of individuals who work and act in influential ways inside bureaucracy. Each of these subsystems shapes the broad outcomes of bureaucracy." -Richard J. Stillman II~-~

Before i read this chapter, I am admittedly a complete idiot to only consider Political Appointees as the decision makers of the country. I was proved wrong. For those who are idiots were me, please remember that you should look into both the text and the context of the topic. The topic is about key decision makers inside public administration, and of course you need someone to decide over the matters of Public Administration or else it's gonna be chaotic. Below will be a recap of the lesson about Key Decision Makers in Public Administration and why they are important and are needed to be studied.

I believe that the Philippine Public Administration creates its key decision makers well. From experience, I have seen all of these subsystems existing in the government today.If you would enter the field of Public Administration, by time and by experience, eventually you could belong to one of these subsystems:

The first would be the Political Appointees. They belong to the top level policy making posts within federal, state, and local bureaucracies. Most of them are low profile in the government. They usually stick to one administration.

The seven influences that they possess shows that they occupy the highest positions within public organizations, they depend upon the policy positions, the length of their government service, their connections with top elected officials, their own personalities, their support from outside groups, the immediate tasks at hand, and whether these lend themselves to imminent solutions. As one moves down the hierarchy of political officials, one finds greater degree of specialization.

Battles occur between different levels of political appointees due to differences in perspectives, they develop close ties between top officials and the chief executive, but despite operating in an ambiguous world, ultimately they are central to the governing processes at all levels of government.

The second would be Professional Careerists. They are a group of experts. They are almost unquestionable, being one of the most respected and being the "tatangs" of the society. Elites proved the leadership as well as set the work standard, the qualifications for entrance and advancement, and the overall values for the profession.

There are Line Professionals located just below the level of the "tatang" elites, and they perform the daily tasks of the agency. There are also Staff Professionals which have a range of specialists and technical assistants who have unique and specialized expertise which is indirect with the tasks of the agency.

Then there are also Administrative Professionals who take activities of the agency very delicately because they are the ones who compose the "directing brain". Last but not the least, there are Paraprofessionals who are paid a little less but are still important in achieving the assigned tasks on the organization.

The Six influences of the Professional Careerist subsystem shows that they are essential in public agencies, they last long compared to appointees, they are part of a well established pecking order, their continuing political strength and popular support of professionals ultimately rest upon their recognized expertise and competence as well as on their ability to exercise these skills in a regular, uniform manner in the public interest, they influence policies by moving upward and outward beyond the contours of their roles, and conflicts are hidden from public because they arise from disputes between clusters of key professionals.

The third would be the General Civil Service. The General Civil Service Subsystem is divided into Ladders of Bureaucratic Specialists, Generalists, and Workers.

Do take note about that Civil Service Members are the bulk of government personnel. It is based on the merit system, where rank is inherent in the job, not the person. It was built on a negative moral reaction to what was perceived as "evil" rather than on a positive and deliberate design.

Members of the general civil service subsystem generally lack the cohesiveness and unity found among professionals. This is due to the lack of mobility within the civil service. In comparison with appointees, civil servants are more realistic and conservative due to worth of incrementalism.The fourth would be Unionized Workers. In America, there are three prominent and powerful public service unions that speak for many, through certainly not all, public employees: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Government Employees and the American Federation of Teachers.

There are five significant aspects of how you are involved in a union. You would acknowledge the prescence of Variety, Growth, if some unions may have matured, if they won positive reforms, and doing the "Civil Service-like" practices and philosophy suffers.

And the fifth and last one would be the most common, the Contractual Employees. They grow fast in their subsystem, and of course, contractual employees only last until... obviously when the contract ends.

Those were the subsystems that have certain important similarities and differences in their roles, values, missions, power, status, functions, activities, and influence within public organizations. Well, this would also apply in the case of the Philippines.

There are just some things that can't be solved by a single person alone. Sometimes, he/she needs the help of other special people to do the job and distribute the problem amongst themselves so it would be lighter. The president cannot work alone without the help of the branches emanating from the constitution. No president has ever made a one-man show out of a government. If you know how to maximize the efficiency of your men and teach them how to deal with specific tasks that you assigned to them, then it would maximize the output of decision making in your government. Hire your men wisely and respect what they represent, and they will function correctly and will do the job done for you.

Now I know how important a certain decision is to me. If you were given the chance to decide over a thing, let's say, choosing whether to cram or not, make a blog or just joke around, or wear shoes instead of being barefoot, would you decide right away even without thinking? Of course not. I would fail if i would cram. She might only laugh when i would just joke around. My feet would be numb and cold if i would go barefoot.


Sometimes I get confused over deciding. Sometimes there would be just too many people affecting your choice and influencing you to what you would pick as a choice. People come from different shapes and sizes. Sometimes you would have a hard time when many people are dictating what your choice would be.

All sorts of things require decision making, no matter how big or how small they would be. Sometimes we need the help of other people who knows a lot about that specialization, and letting them decide over some other decisions would lighten the load of the government.

Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration

Orbe, Aimee C.
2004-17140

After graduating from high school, I hardly had any idea of what I intend to do next. In fact, I was even wondering was it necessary for me to continue schooling. There are just so much things that I can do with my life than to burry myself with books and write essays that I have no idea what good will serve me. But the funny thing is, almost all my family members and relatives has got my entire college life drafted for me. There were people who wanted me to take nursing, others want me to enroll in business courses, and others want me to go to exclusive schools. But in the end- I fail all of them. I decided that I would pursue a career in Political Science, but the strange thing is, I am a person whose understanding and interest in politics is very limited. Maybe I was just trying to annoy everyone who thinks that my decisions can easily be manipulated. It is hard for one to decide when people telling you what to do differ completely. You might wonder why the need to share my course frustration in this blog entry? It is just because I believe that in the course of anyone’s life, certain decisions are to be made and there are people- even those that you don’t have any idea who they are- thinks that they know what is good for you and your life. You have the control of your decisions, but in reality, what people think and say will matter to you. Until now, I have not really thought of any real reason why I stayed in PolSci, but I am not alone for sure. There are just so many of us who have no idea of what we are actually doing. I am not a person made for politics because politics is a game for decision makers, and I am a good-for-nothing when it comes to decision making. I have no plans of getting into politics, aside from it’s a dirty game, there is just too much decisions and responsibilities involved. But come to think of it, if politics is decision making, then I must have been a politician all my life, and all of the people around me- my family, friends, enemies, professors, and even strangers- must have been effective pressure groups. Well doing this blog is one of the many decisions I made, and thus another manifestation of politics in my politics-distant life.


However, what makes government decision different from what I made mention above, politics here concerns everyone- even those people who have no faith in the government. Still, the government, as said by former American President Taft, is not a machine that can be programmed to make efficient judgment and decisions. It behaves like a man, like you, like me. There are other factors influencing our decision. And these other factors simply matter for known and unknown reasons. State decisions are not as easy as deciding what movie to watch or where to dine out. If that’s just it, then everyone must have filed candidacy and start campaigning for the 2007 elections. The government does not have one mind that speaks a single decision. It has many subsystems that normally accounts and influence state policies in varying degrees. In a government, it is not just a good vs. bad decisions or the safeguard like commercials. There are just so many forces in interaction in the internal of the bureaucracy; and each of these subsystems has a definite and distinct role in the decision making process. There are many subsystems in existence but they are often placed under clear categories like political appointees, professional careerists, civil servant generalists, unionized workers and contract employees. Others may work with the government; others may work against the government. This results to a more challenging process of making decisions and forming policies beneficial to the state and its people.

The Philippine bureaucracy indeed shares the same set-up in term of policy and decision making. Group’s participation often affects the process and the final outcome. Thus, state policies may be welcomed by some while denounced by others. It is simply because in the process of decision making, compromise and agreements are made. A single interest can not be achieved because of the internal workings and influence of the different and sometimes conflicting bureaucratic subsystems. If we are to assess the Philippine bureaucracy, the influence of these different groups is easily recognized. Let’s first consider the political appointees. By definition, political appointees are of course appointed by those who are currently in power. As such, the length and legitimacy of their positions are often subjected to the changing party loyalty and supremacy. Thus, political appointees are not assured of a secured tenancy on their current position. Personally, I see political appointees as a product of the strong patron-clientilist nature of the Philippine bureaucracy. Even in school affairs, I have not really been a believer of appointed personnel or representatives. I usually think that it lacks the support of the majority. They are just on the top of the hierarchy because someone says they should be there. Imagine if the entire bureaucratic system will be based on political appointments. One need not have the essentials on being a member of the system. A strong link and developed friendship with the bearers of power will be effective gateways in getting into politics. But the government can not possibly be like that- a world run by appointed individuals. That is the case why political appointees are usually small in numbers. And also to counter the effect of patron-clientilism in terms of appointment, the Philippine bureaucracy formed committees that will look after the capabilities of anyone being appointed personally. Although such institution was formed in the Philippines, committees have not really function effectively. There are still many who made it into office because of developed ties and personal friendship. Even though political appointees have small numbers in terms of representation, they are still crucial agents in the decision making process. Because they usually have strong relationship to heads and policy implementers, they often have the capacity to influence state policies in varying degrees.

A second group considered as one of they key decision makers are the professional careerists. As Prof. Beer calls it, the “technocratic politics”. It is composed of learned and especially trained individuals who normally received higher education. They are often pooled from law firms, universities, big businesses and the like. Like the assumption made by Mosher, almost the entire government are in the hands of these professionals. Because the bureaucratic structure houses many of these professionals, they have of course great contribution and influence to the kind of policies and laws that the state will have. It was argued that the gain popularity and support of professional careerist may be a result of the long battle against corruption and inefficiency in the government. People believe that people who receive higher education are much competitive in terms of state administration. It’s as if these professionals are immortals and the not-so professionals are their lesser counterparts. However, because of their high number in the bureaucratic system, it is not unusual that there are also divisions in this subsystem. They usually have differences in their interest and job description that make one professional different from the other. There are the professional elites, line professionals, staff professionals, administrative professionals, and paraprofessionals. In the case of the Philippines, it is true that professionals have been triumphant victors in their pursuit of political careers. If we will have an assessment of government officials, academic achievements and alma maters are like embossed logo on their forehead that speaks to the people why they should be in their current position- and everything is justified. However, there are still rooms for those who have not really been blessed by the spirits in getting to good schools and win gold medals for anything. It was often supposed that the Philippine bureaucracy is populist in nature. In fact, not everyone in the government is a specialized individual who majored in law, economics, business or public ad. Of course, our elected officials are perfect examples. There are many members of the government who were once interviewed only in the entertainment section of the newspaper or share chit-chats with Boy Abunda and who are now making it on the headlines of political matters. In fact, show business has been the most effective way into our current politics. I won’t be surprise if most of the unlikely actors and actresses will soon dominate the Philippine bureaucracy. However, even with the emergence of a star-studded politics, we can see that good school and academic reputations are still good preparations for aspiring members of the bureaucracy. They still dominate most of the offices and departments in the bureaucratic structure. You see, everyone needs training. Members of the government went to school to be better state administrators; they entered military academies to be better state defenders. In all, professionals still have considerable power over the affairs of the Philippine bureaucracy.

Next to that are the active roles of civil servants. Our civil servants constitute the bulk of our public administrators. They have defined roles and are required to take competitive examination like the Civil Service Exam, to ensure that public matters are safe in the hands of these competitive individuals. However, such examinations are not really observed in the Philippines. In fact, there are people who made it into office through the modes of palakasan. That is why the civil service has grown much in number as stated by Patricia Sto. Tomas in her article. Instead of being a merit-based profession, it has been awarded to people with much contact and linkages. As Sto. Tomas pointed out, the Philippine bureaucracy needs downsizing that is only possible if civil service will observe a merit-based standard and not the patronage system. The process of decentralization has also lead to the increasing number of civil servants. Because many vital state functions are transferred to the local government, a number of people must maintain state administrative processes. Civil servants have considerable influence over state policies because they are representations of the different sectors of the society. Unlike that of political appointees and professionals, civil servants are often pooled from the greater areas and sectors, thus, is more representative of various political interests. However, this subsystem usually suffers lack of unity because of the many surfacing and varied interests. Another problem with the civil servants is the lack of mobility. Clerks serve as clerks for most of their lives. Typewriters changed into computers and fax changed into emails, its only the civil servants that remain unchanged in their offices. From here, we can see that the civil servants, including those in the Philippines, normally have lifetime tenure and are knowledgeable on state affairs thus to be considered as key decision makers.

Another of the identified subsystems is the unionized workers. Of course unions have private and public implications. Most members of unions are only demanding better living conditions that can be made possible through state policies. They influence decisions through constant protests and collective bargains. In the Philippines the role of mass movements is evidently important. They are the representation of most of the Filipino population. They air the wishes and demands of the public. There is an increasing importance of unions in the shaping and formation of state policies and government decisions. The Philippine government respects the role of these formed unions. In fact, rallies and protests are very much active in Philippine politics. Before, I think rallies are just useless attempts to shake the government, but entering this university made me learn that it is far beyond that. Yes, it is true that strikes are common in the Philippines but they have barely been effective. However, these are not the faults of the mass movements; it is the fault of the unresponsive and deaf government. There are many unions because there are many interests that the public needs to advance. From industrial workers, to agricultural people seeking for land reforms. Unions, in a way determine state policies depending on the degree and extent of their ability to affect the government. Last of the groups is the contractual employees. There are many day-to-day functions administered by the state through these contractual employees. Public services are made available to the people through them. The role of this group is important in bringing better and faster services to the public. In the Philippines, government employs many workers to perform state functions and this is where the relationship between government and contractual employees comes in.

Indeed, decisions are influenced by many diverse factors. The government is an important decision maker because his policy matters to a great number of people. However, we can not assume that decision making will be an easy process because much of it is dictated by opposing and conflicting views and interests of the competing bureaucratic subsystems.