Public Service Delivery

Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterNotes
Public Service
Amita Singh1
A key debate, kept alive within the discipline of public administration, surrounds
the question of whether government should only perform substantive institutional
responsibilities and outsource the narrow universe of service delivery to career
administrators. To achieve inclusive, holistic and sustainable governance
representing a magnificent edifice generating policy formulation, execution and
public trust, it is important that service delivery be retained as part of the state’s
substantive domain. While, on one hand, a hegemonic system of power and
resources is consistently debated upon for its ability to deliver services, on the
other, we find a more locally ingrained model of service delivery finding local
solutions, establishing close accountability norms through community supervision
and ensuring easy dissemination of skills and information. The latter models are
closer to a Gandhian framework of understanding service delivery, which remain
confined to ad hoc practices in certain areas and certain communities. While
papers encourage local community-based service delivery models, the modern
public administration literature has more of authentic and tested service delivery
mechanisms that have sustained and transformed lives through many decades.
Impact of Dichotomy on Service Delivery
One of the celebrated scholars of the 1900s, Frank J. Goodnow who worked at the
intersection of public administration and law, proffered an administrative dichot-
omy in his book Politics and Administration (1900) by segregating the task of
service delivery from political decision-making. This conceptual beginning of
administrative studies found a neutral, apolitical and impersonal administrator as
the best bet for good administration. The changing world scenario as the Second
World War was coming to an end, which was followed by Afro-Asian decolonisa-
tion and the need for rapid development, dichotomy became an obstruction rather
than a facilitator. The post-War works of Robert Dahl (Science of Public
Administration: Three Problems, 1947)) and D. Waldo (The Administrative State,
Indian Journal of Public
68(4) 730–735, 2022
© 2022 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561221108503
1 Prof. (Rtd.) Law & Governance JNU; Senior Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Amita Singh, Prof. (Rtd.) Law & Governance JNU; Senior Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences, 8,
Nelson Mandela Marg, New Delhi, India.

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