Public Administration – Concept, functions and examples

We explain what public administration is and the various functions of this discipline. Also, examples and what is private administration.

Public administration
The public administration manages the contact between the citizenry and the public power.

What is public administration?

By public administration the discipline is understood as well as the scope of action in matters of management of the resources of the State, of the public companies and of the institutions that make up the public patrimony.

Public administration deals with managing contact between citizens and public authorities, not only in the bureaucratic institutions of the State, but also in the state companies, in the health entities, in the armed forces, in the police, the fire department, the postal service and the national parks, among others. On the other hand, it does not cover the judicial and legislative sectors.

This concept can be understood from two points of view:

  • Formally, it refers to public bodies that have received from political power the powers to meet specific needs of citizens in matters of general interest, such as health, bureaucracy, etc.
  • Materially, it refers to the administrative activity of the State, that is, to the management of itself, to reinforce compliance with the laws and the satisfaction of public needs, as well as its relationship with private organizations.

Public administration has the privilege of contentious-administrative, that is, of administrative procedural law, capable of managing acts of management (the State acts as a legal person) or acts of authority (executed by the State by decree).

Functions of the public administration

Public administration
The public administration meets the needs of the citizenry.

The primary role of the public administration is the management of state efforts or of the various companies and institutions that make up the State, in order to guarantee effective compliance with:

  • The satisfaction of the minimum needs of citizens.
  • Safeguarding the internal order of the nation.
  • Guarantee bureaucratic, hierarchical and informational relations that maintain a social, political and citizen system operating.

Examples of public administration

Some examples of public administration can be:

  • The measures to cut and shrink the State carried out by neoliberal governments, especially during the 90s in Latin America: layoffs of public workers, merger of ministries, etc.
  • The enlargement of the State carried out by the socialist governments, as they expropriated private companies and properties that become state patrimony, under a management model of the public administration.

Public and private administration

Although many of their processes may be similar, public administration and private administration are distinguished in the following:

  • Objective. While the public administration provides a service to the community, the private one pursues clear profit goals.
  • Financing. The public administration depends financially on the State, although depending on its nature it may provide certain services to third parties; while the private one is entirely due to private capital and donations.
  • Legality. Both are legal, of course, but the public one is endowed by law with powers, while the private one is watched over and supervised by the principles of what is established in the law, and public bodies take care, among other things, of guaranteeing that this is the case. .
  • Dependence. While the public administration obeys the guidelines of the government (as long as they do not contradict the laws of the State), the private administration retains a greater margin of independence.

Public administration and political science

Public administration
A government is nothing more than a specific way of employing the state.

The formal study of political science usually goes hand in hand with that of public administration, for a simple reason: the different models of government or political management that man has devised throughout history have been felt more than anything in the way of disposing of public goods and services, since a government, From a certain point of view, it is nothing more than a specific way of using the State: its laws, its institutions and its social, civic and economic responsibilities.