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Public Policy Management and the Nature of Public Management: a reference to the Chilean case

José Alvarez Madrid

A reformulation of the public management function in today’s world questions the classical distinction between policy and administration: Descartes’ division between thinkers and executives and the reduction of Public Management to the mere implementation or setting into motion of policy. The interdependence between policy formulation and implementation determines the principal function of public management.

From this point of view, pathologies are observed in public management which relate to the deficient coordination between formulation and implementation of public policies, the scant interministerial and intersectorial coordination and the lack of attention paid to users and customers, illustrated by the Chilean case, though it also provides us with successful examples of public management improvements in that country.

The new scenarios of instability in the current atmosphere surrrounding governmental systems as a result of increased globalisation and technification, now requires the incorporation of a premanent adaptation process. Certain rules of bureaucratic stability rein in this new action: personnel schemes and salaries that are set by law; freezing of official’s posts; promotions based on seniority, etc. The question then arises as to how to achieve the desired balance between control of the public function and a responsive management and the exercise of the adaptation function.

This scenario demands a new public executive profile, beyond the traditional role of administrator which stresses maintenance of the system, regularity of procedures and institutional stability; now the role of "producer" will become incorporated, as responsible for not only procedures but also results; and the role of "innovator" as promoter of action, serving as a probe of the need for change, and advising and proposing to the political decision-makers as to new responses; and lastly, the role of "integrator" who will put alliances together, optimise coordination and build networks for coordination of action.

These diverse roles will lead the public executive to augment his competencies as a manager, now including his interpersonal alliances as a leader, manager and network generator, and manager of work site environment and work teams, aside from his technical and administrative skills. The article describes a set of measures for modernising public management which have already been implemented in Chile and which include externalisation; outsourcing of services; process redesigning and reengineering; the creation of autonomous management units; the design and use of management indicators; and a commitment to performance which has already been signed by 43 public services and which include the obligation to define their strategies, become user oriented, redesign processes and undertake to obtain measurable results.

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