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Blogs / ICMA | blog / Implementing the Ideals of Public Service, Pt. 2

Implementing the Ideals of Public Service, Pt. 2


This is the second of three posts in which I will highlight how local governments are incorporating and embracing the principles that Janet V. Denhardt and Robert B. Denhardt outline in their book The New Public Service.

In the first post, I reviewed the first two ideals mentioned in the book (Serve Citizens, Not Customers and Seek the Public Interest).  Here are three other ideals from the book:

1.) Value Citizenship over Entrepreneurship: The public interest is better advanced by public servants and citizens committed to making meaningful contributions to society than by entrepreneurial managers acting as if public money were their own.   

An important aspect of this ideal is to involve the citizens in your community in the policy development process.  The City of Portland, Oregon, leaders did just that in their community-sourced economic development plan.

2.) Think Strategically, Act Democratically: Policies and programs meeting public needs can be most effectively and responsibly achieved through collective efforts and collaborative processes.

“A Manager’s Guide to Evaluating Citizen Participation” (from the IBM Center for the Business of Government) is a great source in achieving this ideal.  On pages 27-37 it provides an outline on how to evaluate the impact of citizen participation and achieve collective efforts and collaboration.

3.) Recognize That Accountability Isn’t Simple: Public servants should be attentive to more than the market; they should also attend to statutory and constitutional law, community values, political norms, professional standards, and citizen interests.

Local public officials who want to be held accountable to all the ideals should review and implement the ICMA Code of Ethics.  ICMA has formulated, through 90 years of experience, a code of ethics to help ensure accountability.

How does your local organization embrace these three ideals? Please post your examples and comments below.

Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Intern