What does the MPA mean to you?

Written by Dr. William Hatcher

I believe the MPA is about transforming communities. In my opinion, the MPA does this by educating public servants to be effective, efficient, and fair—in other words, professional. Each semester, I get odd looks from my students when I tell them that they’re in a graduate program to become professional bureaucrats. Being a professional bureaucrat is not a bad thing. Being an unprofessional bureaucrat, incompetent elected official, or other irresponsible steward of the public’s trust and tax dollars is the bad thing. Nevertheless, today, many do not make this distinct. There are few words in the English language that people despise more than bureaucrat. That’s a shame because professional bureaucrats play an important role in providing the benefits of civilization. They deliver our mail, protect our streets, put out fires, develop local economies, conduct lifesaving research, and many other vital activities that make our nation great.

To me, the MPA’s meaning and importance is extensive. The MPA represents democratic values, opportunity for individuals and communities, and at its core, professionalism. Through educating public managers to be efficient, effective, and fair, the MPA is a force for good in our communities.

I view the MPA like Alexander Hamilton viewed administration. Writing in Administration & Society, Richard Green boldly proclaimed Hamilton to be “the founder of the American public administration.” Green gives Hamilton this title because the framework for our modern economy and our institutions of public administration can be traced to the Foundering Father. Our nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury argue for public administration to be “energetic” by which he meant a government that is active in providing services in an effective manner.

Based on a Hamiltonian view, public administration should be able to solve problems in our nation. It is a view that argues for administration to be focused on the three goals of efficiency, effectiveness, and equity or fairness that we stress in our courses. In MPA programs, like ours, we are educating students to improve government by practicing energetic administration that seeks to be efficient, effective, and fair. It is the essence of what the MPA means to me and for our communities. Providing energetic administration through professional bureaucrats is one of the key ways that we can help transform our communities for the better.

Published on January 27, 2015