One of the biggest challenges facing public administrators today is an increasing diversity combined with new technologies that make public administration more fluid and less rigid than it was twenty years ago. Public administrators have had to shift their practices and policies in order to deliver effective services that address the growing needs of a population that requires better representation across all parts of the government. Although social media alone is not responsible for this shift, it has been a major catalyst in how public administrators deliver their services, and how they can see the direct results of their policies and actions.
Normally, public administrators are simply responsible for coordinating the organization of intergovernmental departments in order to institute policies in the agency they work. They oversee budgets and manage all personal matters within their departments. They also act as liaisons between other government departments and businesses and agencies as well as the public at large. Given the increase in immigration in the United States in the last few years, both the agencies that public administrators work for and the population they represent have changed dramatically. These diversity challenges have not only affected how public administrators conduct their business, they have also created new challenges within the workplace. Because public administrators have created a workplace that reflects the diversity of the population, internal diversity challenges have made changes in how public administrators deal with conflicts within the group as a result of this diversity.
Because public administrators are the intermediaries between elected officials and the public, public administrators have the obligation to protect minorities from abuse within and outside the system. In particular, because of equal opportunity concerns, public administrators have the responsibility to protect minorities from abuse by others. For instance, recognizing when people with significant means attempt to influence public departments to make decisions that only benefit a few at the expense of others is something that public administrators must be aware of in order to make government on any level more transparent. Public administrators can identify these issues and be successful advocates for minority groups.
This accommodation of diversity does not only extend to the public. Within their own departments public administrators in their day to day operations have to ensure that their services are delivered in a way that is culturally appropriate to the group it is targeted for. This has even changed the delivery models for services for public administrators to address the changing demographics in this country. Within their departments, public administrators are responsible for training their employees in cultural competency in a way that makes their employees respectful of diversity and capable of responding quickly and efficiently to discrimination. This is not only vital for workplace success, but it is necessary because citizens have every right to expect their government agencies to represent them fairly, and it is quite easy for citizens to use social media services to air their complaints.
Finally, in terms of citizen involvement, public administrators are faced with the challenge of expanding diversity and promoting social equity by utilizing public meetings as a platform for transparency. Social media is a great way for public administrators to expand their message and services to the public, and it is a fantastic way to put the right face on the department in which they work.
Jamie Smith is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide with a focus on online education opportunities. Several schools offer online degrees, including University of San Francisco and Northwestern University.