APSA Public Administration Section's
Volume 3, Issue
1, Spring 2004
March 1, 2004
fellow public administration scholars!
back to the PA Section Electronic Newsletter, your vehicle for basic information
about section activities and events that are of broad interest to our community
of political scientists who study bureaucracy, administration, and management.
Each newsletter also contains a topical editorial and a number of links to important
information sources. The Electronic
Newsletter is edited by Patrick Wolf
of Georgetown University, with important technical assistance provided by Mel
Dubnick of Rutgers University-Newark/Queen's University of Belfast.
FROM THE SECTION CHAIR:
Dear APSA Public
Administration Section Members: We are looking forward to the National Conference
in Chicago. As you know, the section's program includes a presentation by the
recipient of this year's Gaus Award, and I would like to remind you that I chair
the committee that makes this choice. The committee's decision is due to APSA
by mid-March, so if you should like to nominate someone, please contact me by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A brief letter of nomination and the nominee's CV are
all that's needed. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago and at the Gaus Lecture.
GOVERNANCE UNDER SUSPENSION
University of Belfast
When colleagues hear that I am spending two years in Belfast, Northern Ireland,
the first question is "why" - as in, "Why would you go to there?"
and "Isn't it dangerous?" My flip response was "Hey! You're talking
to someone who works in Newark, New Jersey and has actually taught in Bogotá!
How bad could it be?"
I asked myself the same question when someone suggested I apply for the fellowship
at Queen's University of Belfast (QUB). Why put myself in harm's way for the honor
of becoming a Fulbright fellow? After all, I had never stepped foot in the UK
or Ireland, and all I knew about the place was what I saw on TV news and read
in newspapers. The pervasive media-driven image of Belfast and Northern Ireland
we all have is of bombings and patrolling soldiers walking along streets with
weapons drawn as locals taunt them from behind overturned vehicles and other makeshift
barricades. All the political news I recall from this region consisted of demonstrations
and speeches where leaders respond to peace proposals by with shouts of "Never!
I did apply for the fellowship, and eventually received enough support from the
Fulbright Commission, Rutgers-Newark and QUB's
Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research to keep me in Belfast
for two years. It was only at that point that I engaged in a self-taught "crash
course" on Northern Ireland and the infamous events of the past 35 years
that they call the 'Troubles'.
I came to Belfast expecting Beirut - and what I found was Boston. This is a relatively
small city of about 300,000 people (it was
at one time half a million; and today the metro area is home to nearly 750,000)
nestled among hills and situated
along the confluence of two rivers and a major deep water harbor known mostly
for its history of shipbuilding (the Titanic was built in Belfast). It is also
a vibrant city - a city centre that seems always busy, restaurants that require
bookings each night, crowded and smoke-filled pubs and wine bars, coffee houses
where it is difficult to find seating, traffic that seems always backed up, concerts
and plays at a variety of venues across town, and people who seem always on the
only thing I did not notice at first was any sign of the Troubles. In my first
few weeks in Belfast I saw nothing of the military and very few police -- and
they were doing little else than issuing parking tickets. People were exceedingly
friendly, and I found that only the weather (it is constantly changing from hour
to hour) and the various "Irish" accents proved difficult to adapt to.
In fact, if you paid no attention to the accents or the direction of traffic (a
dangerous thing to ignore by the way), you would think you were in an American
city with its ever present McDonalds, Burger Kings, KFCs and shopping malls.
course, my initial impressions were the result of limited exposure to the more
infamous areas of Belfast such as Falls Road and Shankill Road. The University
is located in a part of town that has no sectarian identity, and the walk to city
centre from there is through a wide corridor that lacks the flags, murals and
other markings of sectarianism. Over time I have become acquainted with the sectarian
neighborhoods, sometimes by stumbling into them and other times with the help
of local residents who came to the conclusion that
I needed to be shown the "real" Belfast. Some of the neighborhoods
I visited were indeed quite bleak (as is true with any urban area), but none seemed
to be like "armed camps" as one would imagine from the news coverage.
Other areas were "bustling" with traffic and shoppers. Some flags and
Troubles-related murals mark these areas, and there are empty homes along blocks
that stand as the current
borderlines between the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. But these
signs of past and current animosities needed to be pointed out - they are
not obvious to the outsider who (like myself) is uninformed about the violence
that took place on THIS street corner or the bombs that killed and maimed dozens
in THAT shopping area several years (or even decades) ago. The Belfast of the
Troubles is not evident to the naked naive eye; rather it is present in the memories
of its residents.
as I've had to overcome my "Troubles" image of Belfast, I've had to
overcome the idea that the political issues at the heart of the Troubles were
simply a matter of Catholics versus Protestants or nationalists versus unionists.
The history and current situation are much more complex than the simple narratives
we see on the news, and I have yet to read an analysis that does justice to the
complicated relationships and passions underlying the current politics of Northern
the center of all the turmoil is a government-in-suspension
that has placed the public administrators of
Northern Ireland in a precarious circumstance they all find challenging and
none find desirable - or, for that matter, especially rewarding. While technically
they "govern" the region in lieu of an elected assembly or executive
(some of their harshest critics compare them to a colonial administration taking
orders from Whitehall), the civil servants of Northern Ireland are in fact native
born Ulsterites who are as sensitive to political criticism as any representative
body of elected officials. And there is plenty of criticism to be sensitive to,
for while Northern Ireland's government may be suspended, its politics are not.
Elections are hotly contested, but the results lead to stalemate. There are at
least a half dozen political parties capable of winning seats in the erstwhile
Northern Ireland Assembly (although not all do) and they represent a range of
perspectives that belies the simplistic picture of the Troubles as a two-sided
controversy between those who seek to join the Republic and those who would retain
their status within the United Kingdom. The civil service must not merely "govern",
they must also actively engage in building and maintaining the programmatic bridges
that have emerged over the past several years. They accomplish this under considerable
and constant pressure, and in spite of being viewed with suspicion by almost everyone
involved in Northern Ireland's political turmoil.
here lies the gist of why Northern Ireland is so interesting to a student of public
administration. The governance of these six counties and the one and one-half
million who live there is a case study in public service professionalism and the
norms of democratic accountability. At the same time it is a story of managing
diverse and often conflicting expectations as they simultaneously contend with
growing demands for public sector involvement while facing pressures for administrative
reforms aimed at reducing direct delivery of public services.
suspect that the one rationale for creating the Fulbright
fellowship in Belfast was to bring some additional expertise on public administration
to the changing and challenging situation in Northern Ireland. In reality, those
of us who come to Belfast will probably learn a great deal more about our field
than we will teach.
March 1, 2004
ON THE VOLCKER
ON THE VOLCKER
Congratulations to the first class of winners of
the Paul A. Volcker Endowment for Public Service Research Junior Scholar Research
Grants, awarded by Chairman Volcker himself at the 2003 APSA Annual Meeting in
Philadelphia. They are:
Laura Evans, Ph.D. Candidate, University
of Michigan, for "Political Disadvantage and Policy Spillovers: The Interactions
of Tribal Governments and Nearby State and Local Authorities"
Hou, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University-Newark (now University of Georgia),
for "Budgetary Decision Making in Reforming Countries: Mechanisms, Theory,
and Rationale - The Case of China"
Kimberly Johnson, Assistant
Professor, Barnard College and Columbia University, "Stateways: Public Administration
in the Jim Crow South, 1930-1954"
I sign up, you ask? Applications are due April 15
for the second round of Volcker Grants.
To be eligible, one must be a
junior scholar researching public administration issues affecting governance in
the United States and abroad.
Proposals are judged based on their potential
to shed new light on important public administration questions, their scholarly
and methodological rigor, and their promise for advancing practice and theory
Grants are expected to total $2,000-$3,000 and can be used
to cover a wide variety of research-related project expenses.
details, see the full Volcker Update posted at Volcker
Update (pdf or Word
format) (or bombard the ever-responsive Bob
Durant with e-mail at email@example.com.
Public Management Research Association held its 7th biannual national research
conference at a truly lovely venue - Georgetown's Public Policy Institute in Washington,
DC, in early October. Over 130 scholars of public management and administration
from around the world converged on our quaint little home to share their most
recent insights regarding public management theory, outcomes, and methods. They
demonstrated that intelligent and respectful discussions can take place in our
nation's capitol, so long as Congress is in recess. Most of the conference papers
are available for download at http://teep.tamu.edu/npmrc.
(A warning, some Netscape browsers - namely mine - won't display the page. Try
Explorer if Netscape doesn't work for you.) Kudos to Conference Chair William
T. Gormley, Jr., for his virtuoso demonstration that those who can teach also
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management is holding its annual research
conference on October 28-30, 2004, in Atlanta, GA. Proposals to participate as
a presenter, chair, or discussant are due March 7.
For details, visit http://www.appam.org.
American Political Science Association Centennial Annual Meeting will convene
in Chicago, September 2-5, 2004. The proposal deadline has long passed and applicants
should be notified soon regarding the disposition of their proposals. We are hoping
for a strong turnout by Public Administration Section members, lest the Association
somehow forget the influential role that PA has played in the political science
discipline over the past century. For details, go to http://www.apsanet.org/mtgs/.
Midwest Political Science Association 2004 Annual Meeting is just over the horizon,
on April 15-18. It will take place in French Lick, Indiana. Just kidding - it
will convene at its usual locale, the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Information
is available at http://www.indiana.edu/~mpsa/.
of just over the horizon, the American Society for Public Administration is holding
its 65th National Conference on March 27-30 in Portland, Oregon. The conference
theme is "Transforming Governance in a World without Boundaries." We'll
see what the U.S. Border Patrol has to say about that. For information surf to
And if you
are interested in the study of administrative ethics, the 2004 Ethics Forum is
being held just prior to the ASPA meetings in Portland at the same venue. The
theme of the two-day forum is "Governance and Ethics," and registration
is only $75 ($50 for students). For information see http://www.aspanet.org/2004conf/specialevents/ethicsforum.shtml.
| || |
AND CONTACT INFORMATION
This newsletter is being provided as a service
to members of the Public Administration Section of the American Political Science
Association. The editor is solely responsible for its content. Please send notices,
suggestions, and corrections to newsletter editor Patrick Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org
order to notified of the PA Section Electronic Newsletter, your current and correct
e-mail address must be on the official section listserv. To subscribe to that
listserv, send an email to or click on email@example.com
and include the following IN THE BODY of the message:
Caution: Make certain you are subscribing from the email server
where you want to receive postings. The system automatically registers that server.
you have any questions, or in the highly unlikely event that you wish to unsubscribe,
contact Mel Dubnick at firstname.lastname@example.org