Principles of public sector management assignment


MGT 270. Principles of Public Sector Management

Assignment 6

Budgeting is one of the most important processes carried out by governments, because budgets enable governments to acquire the resources to execute public policy. The funds needed to maintain a police force, pave streets, build government buildings, provide a safety net for the poor, and run school systems are identified through budget processes.

Budgeting requires matching sources of funds with expenditures needed to carry out the business of government. Common sources of funds include property tax, business tax, income tax, sales tax, fees for service, fines, and licensing fees. Expenditures are directed at things like public security, education, culture, social welfare, capital projects and recreation.

One of the great challenges of budgeting is forecasting future revenues. Budgets are developed before government officials know how much revenue they will be able to work with. Generally, governments initially establish a basic budget based on best estimates of revenue at the outset of the budget year. As time passes and the actual value of revenue becomes clearer, budgets are adjusted. If revenues are more bountiful than predicted, budgets can be increased. If there are revenue shortfalls, budgets need to be trimmed. Ultimately, revenues and expenditures need be balanced.

The budget process should begin with an understanding of the community’s needs and wants. Governments should establish visions, missions, and goals that target the achievement of these needs and wants. Without tying budgets to defined visions, missions, and goals, governments run the risk of pursuing irrelevant projects and operations.

In this assignment, we examine the government budget process by looking at a real world example of a budget-in-action. Specifically, we look at the budget of Prince William County, Virginia as summarized in Proposed FY2015 Budget: Citizen Guide. Use this Document to answer the assignment questions below.


1. Based on demographic data supplied in “Our Community” (p. 3), provide a summary of some key characteristics of the community and its members.

2. Beginning in the 1990s, PWC tied its budget to achieving its strategic plan. Explain how PWC uses the strategic plan to establish the foundation of its budget, using specific examples from Citizens Guide.

3. What are the top four sources of revenue for PWC? Do you believe the PWC revenue profile is typical for counties in the USA? Explain your answer.

4. PWC divides its budget into two categories: capital budget and operating budget. What is the difference between the two. What is the primary source of revenue for the capital budget? For the operating budget?

5. A big portion of the PWC budget entails “transfer to schools.” What does this mean from both the Revenue and Expenditure perspective? Supplement your answer with data from Citizens Guide. Be sure to look at the special character of this budget item on p. 11.

6. Smart county budgeting requires political sensitivity of elected officials. How is such political sensitivity reflected in the PWC budget process? (Hint: See p. 14.)

7. The PWC Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is reasonably typical for counties in the USA. Why do county (and municipal) budgets distinguish between capital budgets and operating budgets? Which three budget areas dominate anticipated capital budget expenditures? Where do you think the money is being spent in these three areas?


MGT 270. Principles of Public Sector Management

Assignment 4

One of the best known statements of public policy is contained in the 1968 article written by Garrett Hardin, titled The Tragedy of the Commons. Hardin – who was a genetic biologist – was gravely concerned that unchecked population growth would follow Malthus’s predictions and lead to a host of problems, including reduced well-being of people on a per capita basis, unacceptable levels of pollution, general food shortages, over-fishing of the world’s fish stocks, and other problems of this nature. From the perspective of the 21st century, most of Hardin’s concerns have become real. We are now plagued with global warming, large-scale epidemics (e.g., SARS, bird flu), mass starvation, depletion of fish stocks, tainted food, deforestation, growing extinctions of species, etc. With the increasing affluence of China and India, with a combined population of more than 2.3 billion people, increased environmental degradation and shortages of materials, fuel, and food will be exacerbated.

Answer the following questions after reading Hardin’s article ( ):

1. Exactly what is the tragedy of the commons? What are its consequences? (One half page to one full page response, single spaced.)

2. This article is recognized to be a high-impact public policy statement. But it was written by a biologist and not a government panel or politician. So in what sense is this a public policy statement? (One half page to one full page response, single spaced.)

3. In Thomas A. Birkland’s book, An Introduction to the Policy Process, the author identifies five elements of a policy design:



Questions to Ask


The goals   of the policy

What are   the goals of the policy? To eliminate a problem? To alleviate a problem but   not entirely eliminate it? To keep a problem from getting worse?


The causal   model

What is the   causal model? Do we know that, if we do X, Y will result? How do we know this?   If we don’t know, how can we find out?


The tools   of the policy

What tools   or instruments will be used to put the policy into effect? Will they be more   or less coercive? Will they rely more on incentives, persuasion, or   information? Capacity building?


The targets   of the policy

Whose   behavior is supposed to change? Are their direct and indirect targets? Are   design choices predicated on our social construction of the target   population?


The   implementation of the policy

How will   the program be implemented? Who will lay out the implementation system? Will   a top-down or bottom-up design be selected? Why?

Thomas A. Birkland, An Introduction to the Policy Process (2nd ed.), Armonk, NY: 2005. Page 160.

Develop a five element policy design based on Hardin’s arguments, as presented in ”The Tragedy of the Commons.” (No limitation on length. Response should be typed single spaced.)


MGT 270. Principles of Public Sector Management

Assignment 3

1. Max Weber’s statements on the principles of bureaucratic organizations and on the ideal traits of bureaucrats that emerge from these principles were the first clear articulation of what constitutes modern bureaucracy. They are well-known and have served as the model for defining bureaucracy for a century. Bureaucracies employ:

  • A hierarchical structure, characterized by a      chain-of-command management system
  • Management by written, well-established rules      followed by all
  • Organization by functional specialty, with expertise      residing in different units of the organization
  • The purposeful, impersonal conduct of work – there      should be no place for personal agendas and politics when conducting the      organization’s work efforts
  • Hiring and promotion of personnel based on technical      qualifications – nepotism, favoritism, bias toward some employees and      discrimination against others should be avoided

a. Why is it important that governments adhere to these principles and traits? Focus on two of the principles listed above, and show why it is necessary to follow them. Identify at least two traits of bureaucrats that flow from these principles (One-half page to one full-page response, single spaced.)

b. While national governments are universally “bureaucratic,” many do not adhere to Weber’s model, which identifies virtuous characteristics that should be followed (e.g., dictatorships, third world countries, theocracies do not follow Weber’s model). What are some consequences of ignoring the precepts of the model in respect to government effectiveness? (One-half page to one full-page, single spaced.)


2. For many years, bureaucracy was seen as an excellent way to deal with large scale operations and complexity. In recent years, however, bureaucracy has often been used as a dirty word. Explain how bureaucracy, with its obvious strengths, has become viewed by many people as something unpleasant and ineffective. (One page, single spaced.)

3. This question examines the common phenomenon of bureaucratic infighting.

Governments are run by means of bureaucracies. At the highest level, a government is divided into functional areas in the form of ministries (e.g., Ministry of Health), agencies (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency), or departments (e.g., Department of Defense). Each of these entities is, in turn, broken into smaller components and subcomponents.

By the very nature of the missions they pursue, there is bound to be overlap in tasks pursued by different government entities. For example, in the United States, both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services carry out duplicative efforts in order to promote nutrition.

It is also likely that different government entities may pursue missions that conflict with each other. For example, in the United States, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior pursue policies to exploit energy resources, while the Environmental Protection Agency’s principal mission is to maintain a strong environment and combat pollution, which may work against the objectives of the Energy and Interior Departments.

A well-known example of bureaucratic infighting is tied to the attempt to get the Keystone Pipeline approved by Congress as well as President Obama in the mid-2010s. In early 2015, both the Senate and House of Representatives approved the project, but on 24 February, President Obama rejected it on environmental grounds. For the project to go forward, two-thirds of the Senate and House would need to vote in its favor to override the President’s veto.

a. Consider two Executive Branch players: the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Owing to their different missions, they have different views on the merits of the Keystone project. What would be DoE’s position? What would be EPA’s position? Explain the rational for your response. When bureaucratic infighting like this occurs, what kinds of actions do opposing sides take in order to have their perspective prevail?

b. In the case of the Keystone project, conflict extends beyond infighting within the Executive Branch. Briefly describe the conflicting perspectives of other players.


MGT 270. Principles of Public Sector Management

Assignment 2

In responding to the following questions, be sure to include material from the Slan text (Chapters 5-8). Also, feel free to supplement your answers with independent research (e.g., library or Internet research).

1. The United States and United Kingdom constitute two of the healthiest and most enduring democracies in the world. In both countries, the will of the people is captured effectively by their respective governments and leaders. Yet the approach to democracy is quite different in the USA and UK. Each of the following questions attempts to capture the differences in the two systems.

a. The US is led by a President, while the UK is led by a Prime Minister. How is the US President selected? How is the UK Prime Minister selected? (Half page response, single spaced)

b. The role of political parties is dramatically different in the USA and the UK. What is the role of political parties in the USA? What is their role in the parliamentary system? (One-half to one full-page response, single spaced)

c. How are cabinet members selected in the USA? How are Ministers selected in the UK? (One-half page response, single spaced)

d. In any democracy, the process of holding elections is important. What is the basis of holding national elections in the USA? What is the basis of holding national elections in the UK? (In answering these questions, take into account such things as the timing and frequency of elections, and what triggers the holding of elections) (One-half to one full-page response, single spaced)


2. One of the most important events that helped shape the role of the US Supreme Court in the early days of the republic was the practice of judicial review, whereby the Court could look at laws passed by legislative bodies to determine their constitutionality. The introduction of judicial review into the US is most closely associated with Justice John Marshall in respect to the Marbury vs. Madison case (1803).

a. Explain what judicial review entails. What makes it unique (e.g., the UK does not practice judicial review)? (One-half page response, single spaced)

b. How does the practice of judicial review strengthen the maintenance of separation of powers and checks and balances that are important traits of the US government system? (One-half to one full-page response, single spaced)

c. The judicial review process can lead to the charge that it enables the Courts to write law (which is supposed to be the function of Congress). Explain the rationale of such an argument. How can this work against the separation of powers? (One-half to one full-page response, single spaced)

d. How are Supreme Court justices selected in the USA? Contrast this with the way they are selected in Germany. (One-half to one full-page response, single spaced)


MGT 270. Principles of Public Sector Management

Assignment 5

Thomas Dye offers a simple definition of public policy: “Whatever governments choose to do or not to do.” Thus public policy reflects actions governments undertake in order to achieve their goals.

This definition of public policy offers no judgment on whether the policy is fashioned carefully or whimsically. It simply states that governments take action to achieve results and this constitutes their public policy.

Clearly, effective governments desire to carry out policies in a deliberative, non-haphazard fashion. Before they take action, they need to understand the underlying facts. They need to grasp fully environmental forces that will color the actions they take, as well as environmental players that will be affected by the actions. Finally, they need to enumerate alternative courses of action available to them and to single out those that would best serve their interests.

Public policy decisions can be contentious, because they may create winners and losers, or they may go against the cherished values of a portion of the population. One of the most controversial public policy decisions of the 2010s was Obama’s November 2014 decision to hold back deporting millions of illegal immigrants in the USA. The announcement of this policy caused praise in some quarters, and bitter outrage in others.

  1. At its heart, what were the basic public policy      issues Obama faced in regard to the matter of deporting illegal aliens?
  2. What specifically is the content of his decision?
  3. What rationale did Obama use to justify his      decision?
  4. What were the principal points made by opponents of      this decision?
  5. Obama made his decision at a time when the      Republicans would gain majorities in both the House and Senate. How could      the timing of his decision be viewed as politically rooted?
  6. Identify three ways this issue might be resolved in      the long run.
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