This paper will discuss the relationship and interplay between public administration and politics. The first part of the paper will briefly discuss the traditional roles of administration and the separation of administration from electoral politics. The second part of the paper will discuss the role interest groups have come to play in the formulation of public policy as a result of their relationships to administrative agencies.
Politics play a unique role in the administration of public policy in democracies. Democratic governments are ruled by politics; they must adhere to the will of the electorate or else run the risk of being voted out of office. This means that all functions of a democratic government are somehow influenced by the political will of the electorate.
However, many functions of government are carried out by bureaucracies whose members are not directly elected by the voting public. Instead, the heads of the bureaucracies are appointed by the elected officials of the government; the head bureaucrats then hire workers for the lower tiers of the bureaucracy according to established guidelines. The lower-level bureaucrats are hired and promoted on the basis of merit. The bureaucracies are therefore populated by technocrats possessing particular skills absent in the elected officials. This structure has caused several theorists to place bureaucracies under the heading of new ruling "elites." (Etzioni-Halevy, 1983, pp. 9-84). The bureaucrats wield an enormous degree of power in a democratic government, despite the fact that they were not popularly elected.
Bureaucracies have established sets of rules and procedures which ensure that their functions are carried out in an orderly manner. Some have argued that bureaucracies have also insulated themselves from public scrutiny and effectively made themselves more powerful than the elected governors who appointed them. (Gerth and Mills, 1958, pp. 232-5)....