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Administrative structures and public employment arrangements cannot be considered in isolation. They exist in a political environment – and serve political as well as functional interests. Changes must be considered in the light of winners and losers and who wants what. Many policy decisions are embedded within seemingly technical public expenditure arrangements and the structure of budgetary institutions (see Public Expenditure On-Line). The legal arrangements and inter-governmental relationships between central and subnational governments (see Legal Institutions of the Market Economy and Decentralization) are fundamental to understanding why administration works the way that it does.

Within those larger concerns, this site offers contemporary data and diagnostic approaches for planning administrative and civil service reforms, an understanding of the architecture of the public sector, the key dimensions of personnel management, and some detailed examination of issues that arise within agencies and sectors. It also sets out some common problems that reformers frequently strive to fix, and some considerations in engaging support for reform.

This overview section sets the scene by providing access to some of the key discussions within the field. The page of government websites illustrates the degree to which effective public administration is now a priority concern for all governments. These hundreds of government sites are not merely telephone listings for a few ministries and departments – they often make claims about the pace and scale of reform. Other sites identified show the work of international organizations, professional associations and research institutes, regional and national training bodies, and many of the journals in this dynamic field. The topical debates page offers a chance for readers to catch up with the concerns aired in the current edition of the International Review of Administrative Sciences.  The topical debates page also covers three perennial concerns:

  • the new public management and its legacy
  • equity and affirmative action in public employment
  • the civil service and the poor.

We welcome your comments and suggestions on improving this site.