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The Context of Public Service

Today's community political environment is a challenging one for the public service practitioner. As we have seen, practitioners must navigate between entrenched elites and demands for decision-making access by citizens. They must find their way between the representational failure of governing-body dominated systems and the lack of accountability and rationality in decentralized or citizen-dominated systems. They are called on, simultaneously, to offer expert advice to elected officials, exhibit deference to those same officials, provide efficient daily administration of public services with decreasing resources, and present a pleasing customer-service face to citizens. This is taking place in a nationwide macro-environment of dislike of government, tax revolt, downsizing, privatization, and bureaucrat bashing fueled by political leaders at all levels of government.

These phenomena ...

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