POLS 331 Intro To Public Administration

Northern Illinois University

Fall Semester 2005

M/W 2:00-3:15

DU 406

Instructor:  Casey LaFrance


 DuSable 476

Office Hours: TBA or By Appointment

Phone: 753-1818

Cell:  706-455-1023

E-Mail: caseybear92@yahoo.com




Course Purpose:   This course will be a very broad introduction to the field of public 

                               administration and its subfields (public policy, public personnel 

                               administration, public  budgeting, public management, politics and 

                               bureaucracy, etc.).  We will discuss the history of public 

                               administration in the United States and the aforementioned subfields.   

                               It is my hope that this class will prepare you for further study in the  

                               field of public administration.







Course Objectives:        To gain an understanding of the development of public 

                                         administration in the United States


                                       To explore the subfields of public administration


                                       To discuss seminal literature in the field and ideas outside the 

                                        field that have influenced administrative practices


                                       To understand the operation of the bureaucracy


                                        To understand how PA affects our lives


                                        To learn from one another


                                        To have a comfortable and enjoyable experience 





Assigned Text: Rosenbloom, David H. and Robert S. Kravchuck (2002) Public Administration: Understanding Management, Politics, and Law in the Public Sector (5th ed).  McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Group Assignments: 10 Points

  So that you may gain a better understanding of course material, you will work on 5 in-    

  class group assignments.  Each of these assignments will require a written record of the  

  group’s responses to one or more questions.  Please don’t “coast” on the hard work of  

  your fellow group members.  I will be paying attention to each group so that I may help  

  each group member to actively participate in the discussion/assignment.  These  

  assignments will make up 10% of your grade in this course.


Individual Assignments: 20-30 Points


  Please be clear in expressing your ideas.  I do not accept “ipse dixit” arguments as justifications for theses.  Whether you are using relevant literature in the field of PA and/or personal interview citations, please  back up your statements!  Also, significant spelling/grammatical errors that make your paper difficult to understand will result in point deductions.  To avoid these deductions, please proofread and spell-check your assignments before turning them in.  For assistance with written assignments, NIU invites you to take advantage of the Writing Center.  To make an appointment with a faculty/staff officer at the center, please call:

815-753-6636 or visit:  www.engl.niu.edu/writing_center/



Interview with a Public Administrator 5-7 Pages TNR, 12pt.:  20 Points

 To help you understand the “real world” aspect of public administration, you will interview a public administrator at the local, state, or federal level.  Your interview should uncover how long the person has worked in his/her field, the operations of the agency, department, bureau, etc. in which the person is employed, any “secrets” the person has to share about administration in his/her capacity, the person’s opinion of public administration in his/her capacity, the person’s explanation of any changes he/she has noticed in his/her agency’s administrative strategies, and the person’s summary of how his/her agency cooperates with elected officials, legislative bodies, community/interest groups, and other bureaucratic agencies.  A verbatim transcript of the interview is not expected, but please use quotation marks to indicate the interviewee’s exact words.  If you elect to record the interview, please obtain permission (via consent form) from the interviewee before doing so.  The last page or so should be your reaction to the interview. 








Optional Research Paper: 10 or more pages TNR 12pt.:  10 Points

Choose a topic in one or more subfields of public administration.  Research this topic, develop a thesis, and then substantiate your thesis with relevant literature in the field.  This assignment is not required, but is worth 10% of your grade in this course.  This means that there is no possibility of making an “A” in this course without writing the paper.  Since this assignment is optional, I will expect it to be completed by those who have a true desire to excel in the course.  In other words, if you want to attempt to “coast” through the class, that is your decision, but do not cheat on this assignment in any fashion.  More thorough information about this assignment will be provided.


Quizzes:  5 Points Each, Best 2 out of 3 for a total of 10 Points


During the course of the semester you will be given 3 quizzes.  Quiz questions could be multiple choice, true/false, or short answer.  Your lowest quiz score will be discarded, so your two best quiz scores will count 5 points each, for a total combined possibility of 10 points.


Exams: 30 Points Combined


Mid-Term:  20 Points

The mid-term may have multiple-choice, true false, short answer, and essay questions.  You will work in your class discussion groups to develop a study guide for the mid-term to help you get to know the material.


Final:  20 Points

The final will not be cumulative, per se, but you may have to have an understanding of concepts covered during the first half of the course in order to demonstrate competent understanding of the concepts covered in the second half of the course.  This test may have MC, T/F, Short Answer, and Essay Questions.  Again, you will work in your discussion groups to develop a study guide for the final.


Participation/Attendance: 10 Points

Since this course has a strong group work/discussion component, attendance is very important.  I encourage and expect each of you to be present for all class sessions.  I also ask that you be alert and active in class discussions and be prepared to answer any questions that I may direct toward you.  I am aware that illness, fatigue, court obligations, familial obligations, university activity, religious obligations, and unforeseen events may inhibit your ability to be present for class.  If you have documentation to support your reason for being absent, please bring it me at the beginning of class when you return.  If you are aware that you may be absent, please notify me via e-mail so I can send materials, etc.  You may expect a significant decrease in your course grade and/or withdrawal with a WF from the course if you miss more than 3 class sessions without documentation.  You have three “cuts.”  Use them wisely, if at all.







Best Two Quiz Scores                                                                10 Points

Group Assignments:                                                  10 Points

Interview with a Public Administrator:                                   20 Points

Mid-term:                                                                               20 Points

Final:                                                                                       20 Points

Participation/ Attendance:                                                    10 Points

Optional Research Paper                                                  10 Points

Total:                                                                                      100 Points



Grading: A = 90-100  B= 80-89  C= 70-79 D= 60-69  F= <60

Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies.  Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing.  Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00.  Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28th.  All copies should have two cover pages – one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name.  Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award.  However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.

Make Up Exams/Assignments:  I will do my best to revise scheduled exams based on a majority vote of class members.  If you miss an exam, and have a VERY COMPELLING reason, I will consider offering a make-up exam.  Late assignments will automatically receive a 10 percent deduction for each class session past the due date. 


Academic Integrity: Please refer to you undergraduate handbook (page 49) for NIU’s policy on Academic Integrity (for Plagiarism and other forms of cheating).  It is impossible to learn from one another if any of us recycle the ideas of others.  Please turn in your own original work, use quotation marks “ “  when quoting a source, and use a recognized citation style (preferably APA).  Please do not speak to one another during the course of an exam.    If I suspect that you may be cheating, I will contact the University Judicial Office.  If your actions are judged as academically dishonest, you will receive an automatic zero on the assignment and a grade of F in the course.    






Accommodation For Students With Disabilities:   

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building.  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.  Please feel free to discuss any disability issues with me in private, and I will make reasonable accommodations to ensure that you may fully participate in every aspect of this course.  Please don’t hesitate to inform me of any needs you have.  If I don’t know, I won’t be able to help you.

Department of Political Science Web Site

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis.  This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities.  To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu.

Decorum/Expectations of Proper Conduct:

In order to ensure that each member of this class has an equal opportunity to learn from and participate in class discussions and activities, I ask that you please demonstrate the following forms of courtesy to one another and to me:


Please make bathroom trips before class and minimize early departure from class (unless you have informed me of your need to leave early)


Please turn off electronic devices (cell phones, ipods, pagers, pda’s,  and similar devices) upon entering the classroom.  Please leave these devices out of sight in a backpack, purse, or pocket.  Please feel free to ask a question or make a comment at any point during the lecture and/or your group activities.  Please do not interrupt another student while he/she is speaking.  Briefly show your hand, and I will call on you in these situations.


If you eat or drink in class, please clean up after yourself.  Please do not bring distracting food items into the classroom (e.g., rustling chip bags, items that require silverware, alcoholic beverages, very pungent foods, etc.).


Please treat your classmates and group partners with respect.  Do not raise your voice in a hostile manner to anyone in the room.  Please do not use excessive profanity, avoid ethnic/gender/religious/racial slurs.  In short, be civil to one another. 






Some of the ideas in the field of Public Administration (and its subfields) are often controversial.  I invite you to share your opinion of these ideas (e.g., Affirmative Action, Federalism, Gun Control, etc.), but please do not use “hate speech” in doing so.  Remember, also, to keep your ears to ideas that may vary greatly from your own.  This is how learning takes place.  Please back up your comments with empirical evidence/scholarship from this field or other social sciences when possible.  Finally, I value debate, but I will not tolerate heated arguments in the classroom.  If one or more class member(s) lose(s) his/her/their ability to speak rationally and respectfully, he/she/they will be asked to cease speaking and/or leave the room.


Please refrain from “side conversations” during the lecture/group work.     


To better facilitate learning in this class, I ask that only registered members of the class be present (i.e., please do not bring guests, children, etc.)


If you fall asleep in class, you may be asked to return to your domicile so that you may nap there and avoid distracting the rest of the class.


On the day of a test, I ask that you use the restroom before class.  You will not be permitted to finish an exam if you leave the room for any reason during the course

of taking the exam.  Leave backpacks/notebooks/textbooks and other materials beneath your seat during the course of an exam.  When you finish an exam, bring your test paper up to me and turn it in face-up so that there will be no possibility of “losing” an exam.


If I deem them necessary, additional “decorum/behavior” regulations may be imposed.


















Schedule:  Please Note that the scheduled contained in this syllabus is subject to change and/or revision at the discretion of the instructor.  Please come to class so that you may keep up with the activities of this course.


Week 1  R&K Ch 1 &2

M Aug 22 & W Aug 24 

Introduction,  What is P.A.?  Meet and Greet, History of Public Administration in the U.S., Public Administration Vs. Business Administration



Week 2 R&K Ch 5

M Aug 29 & Wed Aug 31

Ecology and Structure of PA

Public Personnel Administration





Week 3

Mon Sept 5 Labor Day No Class


Wed Sept 7  Public Personnel Administration Continued


Week 4 R& K Ch 4

Mon Sept 12 & Wed Sept 14

Reorganization Attempts

Organizational Theory

Organizational Behavior


Week 5 R&K Ch 3

Mon Sept. 19 & Wed Sept 21

Intergovernmental Relations

Structure of State and Local Governments

*Interview With A Public Administrator Due Wed 9/21 At Beginning of Class*


Week 6 R&K Ch 8

Mon Sept 26 & Wed Sept 28

Policy Development & Implementation

Public Policy Models



Week 7 R&K Ch 6

Mon Oct 3 &Wed Oct 5

Public Budgeting





Week 8

Mon Oct 10  Midterm Review


Wed Oct 12  Midterm Exam




Week 9 R&K Ch 9

Mon Oct 17 & Wed Oct 19



Week 10 R&K Ch 10 &11

Mon Oct 24 & Wed Oct 26

Public Participation

Clientele Orientation in Bureaucracy


Week 11 R&K Ch 7

Mon Oct 31 & Wed Nov 2nd

Planning and Decision-Making


Week 12 R&K Ch 12

Mon Nov 7 & Wed  Nov 9

Accountability & Ethics


Week 13

Mon Nov 14 & Wed Nov 16

Politics & Administration


Presidential Powers and Limits

Appointee Powers and Limits


Week 14

Mon Nov 21 Bureaupathologies


Wed Nov 23  Thanksgiving Break No Class


Week 15 R&K pp 152-158, Ch 13

Mon Nov 28 Leadership, Orders and Compliance, Professions In Govt., The Future of PA, Loose Ends to be Tied Up


Wed Nov 30 Final Exam Review


Week 16

Mon Dec 5  Final Exam