Changing Homeland Security: An Opportunity for Competence
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Hurricane Katrina shattered belief that the nation’s homeland security system was ready for a major terrorist attack. Public administrators staff that system. Katrina provides an opportunity to review the central normative premise of public administration: competence. This article briefly reviews the changing competence frameworks that have guided public administration since the 1880s. Over the last one hundred years, administrators have been seen as artisans, scientists, social reformers, and managers. The ineptness of the public sector’s response to Katrina reminds us – however briefly – that for the last 30 years, government has been seen as the enemy, the problem to be solved – not the partner in finding solutions. The result is a demoralized and dysfunctional public workforce. The American homeland can never be secure until the public workforce recreates the spirit of competent service so glaringly absent in the wake of Katrina.
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