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Meredith A. Newman, Ph.D. President, American Society for Public Administration Professor and Chair, Florida International University Service Delivery.

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Presentation on theme: "Meredith A. Newman, Ph.D. President, American Society for Public Administration Professor and Chair, Florida International University Service Delivery."— Presentation transcript:

1 Meredith A. Newman, Ph.D. President, American Society for Public Administration Professor and Chair, Florida International University Service Delivery in Times of Crisis: Questions of Accountability

2 We should never forget that we are here as public servants. And public service is a privilege...We must stand up together and answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century (President Obama) Address one of the less visible administrative challenges that becomes exacerbated in times of crisis – Accountability Emotive skills essential to collaborative governance Focus is on service delivery and first-responders Three questions: 1. Accountability to whom? 2. How do workers reconcile conflicting accountabilities? 3. How is accountability measured? 2

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4 Q.1: Accountability to Whom? Bureaucratic accountability Legal accountability Political accountability Professional accountability 4

5 Within this “multiple masters” context, lines of accountability become blurred as workers find themselves facing more than one set of legitimate accountability expectations simultaneously Two other elements of accountability: accountability to various parties and accountability for results 5

6 Accountability to Citizens Accountability relationships are understood as two directional. First-responders recognize that they are accountable: “Upwards” – to their bureaucratic and political masters And “downwards” – to the firefighters riding the truck and to the citizens whom they assist 6

7 Wild Fires, Russia, August 2010 Igor Komarov 7

8 Accountability to Agency Rules These jobs are inherently discretionary Tension between needs of citizens and limits of rules Face-to-face contact with recipients of services Relationships are personal and emotional, rarely cold and rational 8

9 Earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 2010 Justin Stumberg, U.S. Navy 9

10 Mine collapse in Chile, August 2010 UPI 10

11 Q. 2: How do workers reconcile conflicting accountabilities? The exercise of discretion, and the moral and value judgments that accompany it, may render the goal of reconciliation misplaced, even irrelevant Rather than seeking to reconcile competing accountabilities, first-responders seek first to save lives and property 11

12 Flood in Queensland, February 2009 William West/AFP/Getty Images 12

13 Q. 3: How is Accountability Measured? Accountability, like merit, may be in the eye of the beholder Problems of verification and “many hands” Competing definitions of success First-responders can decide to make their work harder, more dangerous and less officially “successful” in order to respond to the needs of the individual 13

14 Earthquake in Padang, Indonesian, October 2009 International Federation of Red Cross /Red Crescent 14

15 Floods in Pakistan, August 2010 Akhtar Soomro/Reuters 15

16 Emotive Skills Expressing compassion Centrality of person-to-person interactions in the citizen- state exchange Symbols of competent caring on the part of the government are important 16

17 BP Oil Spill, Louisiana, USA, 2010 Chuck Kennedy, Official White House Photo 17

18 Bushfires in Victoria, Australia, Cate Swannell

19 Nature of first-response blurs and confounds simple models of accountability If we are to find new ways to share responsibilities, we need to recognize the complexities of these accountability relationships And the importance of technical as well as emotive skills in service delivery Public service is a privilege – let us find ways to bring it together in order to meet our big challenges Conclusion 19


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