Giving back to the local community should always be done first. The government should always prioritize offering the best or improved public services, especially when dealing with those with a stake in the community. With $3 million set aside for upkeep and repairs, there should not be any justification for delays or inaction on sidewalk repairs, especially in light of the Brookes Brothers’ approving the proposal to finish the project in 9 months. Something is happening in the background, whether fraud or a lack of service provision. The public welcomes the announcement of the internal probe, but it has cast a negative light on the enterprise. Because of this stain, the job might never be finished and will take longer. Every day that goes by, another incident like the one that wounded the 10-year-old girl riding her bicycle on the sidewalk owing to the dangerous, uneven ground occurs. It is only a matter of time before a more major accident occurs. The county officials will be held accountable for failing to resolve the maintenance and repair issue. This project’s implications go as far as life and death. The 10-year-old girl was fortunate enough to escape the tragedy with only scrapes and bruises, but future mishaps may not be as fortunate. The county’s residents’ faith in the government will be destroyed if this project is abandoned before it is finished. The people will perceive this project’s social fairness as a sign that they are valued and will receive top-notch services; therefore, canceling it early would only make them distrust the government.
Appropriate Role of Public Administrators in Influencing the Development of Public Policy
Creating public policies that serve as a roadmap for authorities in their multiple initiatives and programs to coordinate local government activities is a crucial duty for public administrators. Public managers create these policies and collaborate with local leaders like mayors to make them a reality (Andrews, 2019). In addition to interpreting presidential orders or legislation issued or approved by legislatures and the presidents themselves, administrators play a legal and respectable role in shaping public policy before constitutional lawmakers establish it. The employment of public officials for lobbying and advocacy must involve some degree of responsibility, control, and responsiveness. The best way to manage people and public affairs should be through bureaucracy for maximum effectiveness, order, and the eradication of prejudice. While activities like lobbying continue to occur within the government, there must be some degree of separation between the two (Andrews, 2019). For instance, in this case, the administrator cannot be persuaded by private companies to exert intense pressure for a public good that ultimately benefits, or appears to benefit, private interests at the expense of the general public.
Among other ways that public administration influences public policy is through enforcing laws that benefit the populace and mandating that those engaged finish projects on schedule. When work is not finished on time, the pertinent lines are drawn (Andrews, 2019). Because no limit was established that kept government officials informed of the status of the maintenance and repairs, things got better than they did, especially while waiting for public disapproval to grow as large as it did. This indicates that the individuals in charge were not doing their duties and that those involved should also face the consequences for abandoning the project.
Lobbying and Procurement Process in the County
In Taggart County, lobbying is legal. The procurement procedure must be unbiased and fair, built on the principles of consistency and openness, and require the detection and resolution of all conflicts of interest. Any lobbying activity must adhere to a code of ethics, which includes keeping track of and filing all correspondence and any additional compensation received due to the lobbying (Lane, 2021). Transparency, competitiveness in procurement, fairness and impartiality, and conflict of interest are essential issues in this scenario. All administrators must be accountable and responsible for their actions, particularly concerning legal compliance and efficient program administration. Accountability is the cornerstone of public administration in the US because it provides a mechanism for keeping individuals in positions of power responsible.
In Taggart County, there are several options for lobbying. In order to influence decisions or the result of government negotiations, an unpaid lobbyist may address county authorities on behalf of another individual. The same is true for hired lobbyists. However, they are required to register annually with a clerk before participating in lobbying for the first time. To avoid improper intentions or activities, they must also register the firm’s or corporation’s name (Bombardini & Trebbi, 2018). By revealing who is influencing decisions and who is advocating on their behalf, these regulations more broadly reflect the need for accountability in public bodies. Having the names of the lobbyists involved in a project or bill once the government has approved it will demonstrate who was really in favor of it if it is completed late or poorly. These individuals’ identities can be used to hold lobbyists and companies responsible and government officials aware of the dangers associated with approving the project or measure (Bombardini & Trebbi, 2018). This often raises everyone’s bar since only the people directly engaged are to blame when anything goes wrong. Involved parties receive justice more quickly as a result.
The case includes multiple instances of misbehavior in addition to legal and ethical concerns. A few problems must be solved: accountability, conflicts of interest, openness, and competitiveness in the procurement process. Commissioner Winter violated procurement regulations that call for public officials to be held responsible and to keep high ethical standards when he failed to document all of his talks with a lobbying organization representing Brookes Brothers (Lane, 2021). This raises concerns about the degree of openness and accountability in the lobbying and tender award processes, despite Commissioner Winter’s meetings with Brookes Brothers lobbyists. The biggest issue, in this case, is a conflict of interest; Brookes Brothers Company employed Commissioner Winter, but this was not disclosed (Bombardini & Trebbi, 2018). The tender was granted to a Brookes Brothers company because Winter, a public administrator, had ties to the Brookes Brothers and their lobbying activities in the past. This suggests that the tender selection process lacked impartiality and fairness and that the commissioner had a significant conflict of interest. The Brookes Brothers may have had an unfair advantage due to their prior work connection with Commissioner Winter, which may have resulted in a secretive procurement procedure and contract award.
The maintenance and repairs were not carried out and completed as promised by the parties that agreed to take on the task (Brookes Brothers) and the in-charge government authorities (Commissioner Winter), who oversaw the entire process. Following government officials’ refusal to act independently and waiting for widespread public disapproval, transparency laws were broken (Bombardini & Trebbi, 2018). This meant that everything needed to be done behind the scenes; those in control waited until there was enough public uproar to launch an inquiry into the Brookes Brothers and the commissioner for allowing them to take on this project.
PPPs are generally intended to have a significant positive impact on society. The government provides land and projects, while the private sector adds knowledge, resources, and funding to finish major public projects. PPPs function best when public sector incentives are matched with private sector creativity and technology to deliver works or projects on schedule and under budget (Boyer, 2019). These PPPs might help economies and communities in several ways, including enhanced access to high-quality infrastructure services and higher economic growth. Even still, the lofty expectations that public-private collaboration is expected to satisfy have yet to be met by Taggart County and Brookes Brothers. The project is already behind schedule, and the overage claims are already getting close to the original budget. However, they still exceeded the $3 million contract bid price, partly because the procurement process needed to be more fair and transparent. As a result, the project may be abandoned before it is finished, which will likely lead to concerns about social fairness, given the social, political, and ethical issues involved. The typical family income in Bluebird is less than half that of the county, and nearly two-thirds of families there are women-led. Most of the people that live in Bluebird are African Americans.
Through the eyes of those who reside in Taggart County, The Brookes Brothers, and Taggart County officials have tarnished the overall perception of public-private partnerships. Everyone believed that this maintenance and repairs would be quick and completed within the allotted period, but instead were misled and cheated out of a $3 million improvement. The project’s rejection and general lack of action behind the scenes have stained the community (Boyer, 2019). The county manager and other government representatives are now responsible for determining what occurred behind the scenes and ensuring that those who merit justice receive it. Additionally, it avoids holding the Brooke Brothers and Commissioner Winter responsible. The residents of Taggart demand accountability when dealing with problems like these. Since accountability is a prized administrative and political value, the conventional wisdom has been that there can only be a small quantity of it. This saying applies to all future public-private relationships that will come under scrutiny, not just the one between the commissioner and the Brookes Brothers.
In the future, Commissioner Winter will be primarily responsible for determining if fraud is at issue when dealing with companies like the Brookes Brothers. Under the commissioner, there are additional degrees of security to ensure things are okay. Government officials, such as the county manager, can intervene at any time and ought to do so if they believe the project is not being completed or if there are indications of fraud. Codes of behavior against fraud, such as fairness and impartiality, the use of a competitive procedure, consistency and openness of the process, and the recognition and resolution of conflicts of interest, should constantly be reinforced by Commissioner Winter. All suppliers must be treated similarly and given the same opportunities to be considered fair and unbiased. By always letting the best alternative complete the project rather than the one with the most significant payoff, using a competitive procedure creates a simple, consistent policy for authorities to follow. Consistency and openness that confirms proposers and bidders are not suspected of engaging in fraudulent activity and are sincere about accepting the suggested duties. Before taking any further action on the project, conflicts of interest must be identified and resolved, marking those parties as suspects. This implies that if anyone’s motivation for submitting an estimate, bid, or proposal were questioned, they would have to disclose their identity and potential conflicts of interest or risk being charged with fraud or other crimes. These elements ensure that the general public is treated well and that county officials are held accountable when dealing with such expensive projects.
Andrews, L. (2019). Public administration, public leadership, and the construction of public value in the age of the algorithm and ‘big data.’ Public Administration, 97(2), 296-310. https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12534
Bombardini, M., & Trebbi, F. (2020). Empirical models of lobbying. Annual Review of Economics, 12, 391-413. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-082019-024350
Boyer, E. J. (2019). How does public participation affect perceptions of public–private partnerships? A citizens’ view on push, pull, and network approaches in PPPs. Public Management Review, 21(10), 1464-1485. https://doi.org/10.1080/14719037.2018.1559343
Lane, E. (2021). Lobbying and the Law. University of California Press.