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The Machinery of GovernmentPublic Administration and the Liberal State$
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Joseph Heath

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197509616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197509616.001.0001

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Taking Public Administration Seriously

Taking Public Administration Seriously

(p.1) 1 Taking Public Administration Seriously
The Machinery of Government

Joseph Heath

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a series of examples that illustrate the power wielded by unelected state officials. This power includes not only discretion but also control over the policy process, as well as the ability to bring pressure to bear upon elected officials. The exercise of this administrative power, far from being an imperfection in the system, contributes a great deal to the quality of public decision-making. But it raises a difficult normative question concerning how unelected officials can wield power in a way that is consistent with the commitment to political neutrality of the permanent civil service and to the more general principles of democratic legitimacy that govern liberal-democratic states. A contrast is drawn between this position and the one defended by Pierre Rosanvallon.

Keywords:   administrative power, liberal neutrality, political neutrality, discretion, policy process

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