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HISTORY OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION



Ø 1) Why is it important to study the history of public administration? What do you know about the origins of public administration?

 

Ø 2) Check the pronunciation of these words in a dictionary:ancient, a soldier, a war, a project, an Egyptian pharaoh, justice, an empire, finance, foreign, Chinese, a practice, successful, a clerk, an examinee, a council, a monarch, a chancellor, a status, a treasury, European.

 

Ø 3) Be careful with the translation of these words and word combinations: the day-to-day business of government, many lesser officials, building stone, the principal officers of state, the powerful bodies of nobles, a complex distribution.

 

Public administration has ancient origins. In ancient times, soldiers were almost the only people who served the government. In those days, the government was usually in the hands of a king. He could call on his soldiers in time of war. In peacetime, he relied on a small group of trusted councilors and advisers. The king also gave some of his power to officials, such as judges and tax collectors, who saw to the day-to-day business of government. This was the beginning of civil service as we know it today.

Building the great pyramids of ancient Egypt was an enormous engineering project. The Egyptian pharaoh gave the orders. But many lesser officials were needed to carry the orders out. The Egyptian civil servants were responsible for slave workers, building stone, food, drink, and money to pay for it all. In antiquity the Egyptians and Greeks began to organize public affairs by office, and the principal officeholders were responsible for administering justice, maintaining law and order, and providing plenty.

Gradually, as civilization developed, governments began to employ specially trained people to carry out the tasks of government. The Romans developed a sophisticated system of administration under their empire. They created distinct administrative hierarchies for justice, military affairs, finance and taxation, foreign affairs, and internal affairs, each with its own principal officers of state. This elaborate administrative structure covered the entire empire. Officers reported back through their superiors to the emperor. This structure was later imitated by the Roman Catholic Church. After the fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe in the 5th century, this sophisticated structure disappeared but many of its practices continued in the Byzantine Empire in the East. By the Middle Ages, there was some form of civil service in most countries of Europe.



The Chinese built up a centralized administration and a well-organized civil service which was undoubtedly the longest lasting in history and which ran the Chinese empire for 2,000 years. The Chinese came to the idea of examining candidates for civil service. Only one candidate out of every 100 was successful. A candidate for civil service position had to know the Chinese classics and to prove practical skills and professional qualities by different testing methods. Examination papers were copied by clerks, examinees were identified by number only, and three examiners read each paper to ensure fairness in grading. Examination grades were decisive in admission to the civil service and in career promotion. The idea of civil service examinations was imitated by civil services in many other countries.



In medieval times, civil servants depended on the king. When the king died and a new king succeeded him, a civil servant could expect to lose his post. But in most modern civil services the transfer of power from one administration to another does not mean the whole removal of all civil servants. They are public employees, who continue working for the state, irrespective of whatever government holds power. In democracy the government of the day makes laws, and it is the job of the permanent civil service to carry them out. While civil servants carry on the work of each government department, a government minister is in charge of the department and is responsible to parliament and the people.

Early European administrative structures developed from the royal households of the medieval period. Until the end of the 12th century official duties within the royal households were ill-defined, often with multiple holders of the same post. Exceptions were the better-defined positions of a butler (responsible for the provision of wine), a steward (responsible for feasts), a chamberlain (responsible for receiving and paying out money that was kept in the royal sleeping chamber), and a chancellor (usually a priest with responsibilities for writing and applying the seal in the monarch’s name).

In the 13th century the functions of keeping the royal household and the functions of governing the state were separated. Many household posts disappeared. However, the office of chancellor, which was always concerned with state matters, survived and became the most important link between the old court offices and modern ministries. As for the chamberlain’s office in the royal household, it developed into the modern treasury or finance ministry.

From the middle of the 13th century three major bodies for handling affairs of state emerged: the high court (evolving primarily from the chancellery), the exchequer, and the collegial royal council. In England and France, however, such bodies appeared only in the early 14th century, and in Brandenburg (which later formed the basis of the Prussian state) only at the beginning of the 17th century.

Apart from justice and treasury departments, which originated in old court offices, modern ministerial structures in Europe developed out of the royal councils. Royal councils were powerful bodies of nobles appointed by the monarch. Gradually labor was divided within these councils, and the monarchs’ secretaries who had a low status within such councils became the first professional civil servants in Europe in the modern sense. The secretaries were always near the monarch that is why they knew more about royal intentions. The secretaries were relatively permanent that is why they had greater expertise in particular matters of state than transient nobles of the council. They were also assisted by staffs. The secretaries grew in importance in the 15th and 16th centuries as they became more or less full members of the council.

Initially, the functions among secretaries were distributed based upon geography. In England, for example, there was a secretary of the North and a secretary of the South until 1782, when the offices of home and foreign secretary were created. In France the distribution of territorial responsibilities among secretaries of state was even more complex until 1789, when functional responsibilities appeared.

As governments became more complex, it became clear that civil servants must be properly qualified. Reforms were brought in to separate the civil service from politics, and to introduce selection on merit, through examinations open to all. Today, almost all civil servants are chosen in this way.

The work done by the civil service covers every activity of government: health, welfare, defense, agriculture, taxes, trade, transportation, and so on. As modern life has become more and more complex, so the number of civil servants has grown.

Ø 4) Answer the questions on the text:

a)How did civil service start?

b)What was new in the civil service in Egypt and Greece in comparison with the ancient times?

c)What was the contribution of the Romans into the development of civil service?

d)What was the innovation of the Chinese concerning civil service?

e)What is different between the civil service in medieval times and the present civil service?

f)What civil service positions existed in medieval times?

g)What are the origins of modern ministries?

h)Who became the first professional civil servants in Europe?

i)Why has the number of civil servants grown considerably compared with ancient times?

 

Ø 5) Summarize the text.

 


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