Comparative Legislative Reforms and Innovations by Abdo I. and James J. Heaphey, eds. Baaklini

By Abdo I. and James J. Heaphey, eds. Baaklini

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For the past five years the Comparative Development Studies Center has sponsored three international conferences on legislative development and has organized several panels on the same topics in the context of the annual conferences of the American Society for Public Administration, Society for International Development, and the triennial meeting of the International Political Science Association. The first international conference sponsored by the Center took place in Cyprus in 1972 and resulted in the establishment of the Research Committee on Legislative Development of the International Political Science Association.

On the other hand, such an absence may be conceived as a disadvantage, since it can lead many of those who are involved and interested in legislative reforms to believe that public administration has sold out to the politically influential legislators who are at the base of legislative weakness and corruption. The question becomes, then, how can public administration maintain its theoretical consistency and yet demonstrate its utility? In view of the growth of public bureaucracies in the executive branch, and the power they have come to wield, it would be naive to accept the thesis that bureaucracies are simply tools for the advancement of rational-legal decision-making.

The politics-administration dichotomy was challenged and efficiency and rationality were reexamined. The new perspective revealed that public administration was engaged in policy-making and that efficiency and rationality had become ends in themselves rather than means. As before, proponents of a strong bureaucracy argued that the difference between bureaucracy in a democracy and bureaucracy in a dictatorship is in the primacy given to politics. In a democracy bureaucracies do engage in political choices but they are ultimately controlled by political institutions.

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