Inefficient public administration

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Ineffective civil service
Inadequate governmental managerial instruments
Limited civil administrative capacity
Lack of trained administrative personnel
Bureaucratic inefficiency
Government inefficiency
Public sector mismanagement
In the developed market countries, where the driving force of society is the private economic sector, public administration functions are funded by a large tax base. Governmental organization tends to be disproportionate to authority and need. Ministries, departments and bureaux may proliferate and yet have no real autonomous function or power. Civil servants may often have inadequate managerial backgrounds and their administration of the public services funded by taxpayers may be wasteful and sometimes, by business standards, incompetent.

In less developed areas, the future of the entire country may lie with its public administrators, there being no industrial infrastructure. However, lack of such industrial infrastructure implies a parallel lack in educational and managerial infrastructure as well, with the result being trial-and-error management of governmental agencies and services. In many developing countries, especially those of low income, the government's administrative capacity to carry out a programme of economic reform is poorly developed. Moreover, in most developing countries the bureaucracy forms an influential interest group that may oppose economic stabilization and structural reform since this may require reducing the size of the public sector through government employee layoffs and privatization of state-controlled enterprises. The structure of local government in many developing countries is also inefficient. Often fiscal relations are opaque because of political expediency rather than lack of knowledge or skill. This makes reform much more difficult when more open and transparent systems are urgently needed.

Civil service administration, both internal and general, has special features in the developing countries. To achieve a satisfactory internal administration, it is often essential to undertake radical reforms before an adequate and homogeneous civil service can be built up under what are frequently difficult conditions. To reorganize services, and to take a number of other measures connected with a gradual policy of modernization and transformation, raises a multitude of problems. Sustained attention and continuous effort are necessary to arrive at the form of administration best suited to particular needs. Nearly all the developing countries are in a period of transition in this respect; solutions are adopted under the pressure of circumstances, and the soundness of the means employed may be very questionable. Many of these countries are carrying out experiments, including reforms of various kinds, and at times it is too early to try to draw the necessary inferences from them. The task is to set up a homogeneous and national civil service based on merit where only the rudiments exist.
In the UK in 1994 the Commons Public Accounts Committee identified 21 cases over the previous two years in which millions of pounds of public funds had been wasted by government agencies. In addition, the government was accused of tolerating grave shortcomings, concealment of vital information, conflicts of interest, waste and mismanagement.

An Israeli government watchdog agency claimed, in 1992, that a state company operating under the Housing Minister may have been guilty of maladministration. It cited suspicion of receipt of considerations, including political interests, many deviations from rules of public administration, sometimes with harm to standards.

In some countries public administration is inadequate at both the central and local levels, forming a reservoir for excess labour rather than a device to ensure the efficiency of the economic system. Different levels of government create an uncoordinated bureaucratic machine subject to votes of opposing political tendencies. Where the government itself is responsible for the establishment and operation of industrial enterprises, the burden upon the civil administration requires a managerial and sectoral expertise that can only develop in time. In the interim, costly mistakes may be made. Development projects planned and executed by public services are rarely feasible owing to a lack of productive working methods and experience.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
03.12.2017 – 04:41 CET