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Frontiers of Public Service

Frontiers of Public Service


Invited Commentary Frontiers of Public Service* Robert B. Denhardt University of Missouri-Columbia There's no question that the past decade has been a difficult one for the field of public administration. Governmental cutbacks have severely restricted the public workforce, while the demands placed on public agencies are ever increasing. Meanwhile, both the general public and a significant number of major political leaders have sought to blame problems on those who staff and manage public organizations. The always-difficult job of public administrators seems to have become even harder just at a time when the image of public employees is most tarnished. There certainly was little doubt about the public's impression of the bureaucracy in the late seventies and early eighties. An article in the National Journal a few years ago started out this way: "Bureaucrats. If you're not one of them, you probably can't stand them. You figure they are lazy and overpaid, that they arrive at work late and leave early and take long lunch hours. But you can't do anything about it, because it's impossible to fire a bureaucrat." That's obviously a terribly, even viciously, overstated portrayal of the men and women who work in government agencies. But
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