The Autonomy of Senior Public Servants

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Rok publikování 2023
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Popis Senior public servants are the nexus between politicians and civil servants, which makes them a central actor in the executive triangle: politicians, senior civil servants, and political appointees (such as ministerial advisers). Traditionally, the point of departure for most discussions of senior public service autonomy is the Weberian ideal that the public service remains neutral and is appointed and promoted on the basis of merit rather than party affiliation or personal connection. In this setting, senior public servants are the technical experts and exercise discretion and oversight over policy implementation. They are also involved in the decision-making around policy design and cross-departmental coordination and management. The nature of the relationship and public service bargain (PSB) with the other actors within the executive determines the level of their autonomy, roles, and responsibilities. The literature on ministerial advisers, however, shows that the behavior and, thus, the autonomy of senior public servants may be altered in what came to be known as functional and administrative politicization. A similar effect is also ascribed to the mediatization of politics. The political setting within which senior public servants operate significantly differs under the context of extensive patronage, where senior public servants do not work in a stable environment. Governing elites may either fire and hire senior civil servants because they have legal powers to do so or can bend, break or ignore existing regulations. To protect their autonomy, we can witness the voluntary exit of senior civil servants who do not wish to work under incoming ministers. The paper reviews the various executive triangle settings and corresponding defining boundaries of senior public servants vis-a-vis other actors in the executive triangle. It discusses major trends that have an impact on and/or change the traditional roles of senior civil servants and their autonomy.
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