What is discretionary judgment? Why is it an important skillset for public administrators? The use of one outside source is acceptable.... [Show More]

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In public administration, discretionary judgment is the flexible exercising of decision making and judgment that is allowed to public administrators with regulatory and people in public administration exercising discretion on a daily basis. Indeed, administrative law can assist public administrators to get on the path of following regulation in their exercise of discretionary judgment, serve the public, and in turn, a true reflection of the public’s beliefs and values. According to Leys (2018), the exercise of discretionary judgment involves the evaluation and comparison of possible courses of conduct, making independent judgments and decisions after considering all possible scenarios and facts. The exercise of discretionary judgment is more than the use of skills in applying well-established procedures or specific standards that are described in administrative manuals and laws. Discretionary judgments in public administration are not fixed by rules but are decided based on individual merits of a case. Public servants in administrative roles are permitted to exercise flexibility in making independent judgments and decision making. This power to administrative officials to make sound and independent decisions have greater reaching impact on policy implementation based on the judgment of what is the best course of action for a particular case (Cox III, Buck & Morgan, 2015). The exercise of discretionary judgment in public administration implies that one has the authority to make independent choices that are free from immediate supervision and direction from powerful quarters. However, in some cases, discretionary judgment can be exercised even if the said recommendation or judgment is subject to review at a higher level of authority. Thus, the powerful term “discretionary judgment” doesn’t require that the judgments being made have to be free from review or final. Also, the mere fact that the discretionary judgment is subject to review and that upon such review the decision is revised or reversed in its entirety does not imply that a public administrator is not exercising independent judgment and discretion. These decisions are applied in light of unique facts in a given case in which questions arise. Discretionary judgment and authority are necessary for public administration and government. This is because not all the actions taken by public administrators are decided based on general rules. Public administrators must, therefore, have some level of flexibility when deciding when or how a rule ought to be applied. Moreover, discretionary judgment is part of fulfilling responsibilities to ensure that there are effective and efficient performance and management of the public authority. For instance, under the general public sector legislation or making decisions under department or agency relating to service delivery by public administrators. Discretionary judgment in public administration ensures effective and fair governance of institutions that implement policies, ensures there is respect for the general principles of law. Truly, effective implementation of public policies is impossible without mechanisms and institutions ensuring openness and fairness of independent decision making. Also, discretion allows public administrators to apply the principles of adequate reasoning which is a prerequisite for the legality of actions in administration. This will help strengthen the means of redress of grievances. Administrative discretion is vital because, without it, there could be the unreasonable and arbitrary use of discretion which will obviously lead to the destruction of the general principles of governance and administrative law (Leys, 2018). As such, there is a need for administrative discretion since the public’s interest could be in jeopardy if agencies were not following regulations and laws. While discretion in public administration is not laid out in the job description of a public servant, it is essential because citizens use bureaucratic institutions on a daily basis for the provision of services. Additionally, administrative discretion enables agencies to utilize professional judgment and expertise to perform official duties and make decisions as opposed to strictly adhering to the statutes and regulations. For instance, public officials are granted administrative discretion when they have the freedom to make choices among possible courses of action. Failure to reasonably exercise discretion is an abuse of discretionary judgment. In some cases, exercising discretionary judgment by an administrator when he or she performs and implements tasks may be necessary and politically expedient. However, administrative discretion may be abused with corrupt and malicious intent which will obviously erode the confidence and allegiance of citizens to the political systems and fair administration. It is, therefore, no surprise that many governments are implementing strict policies to reduce administrative discretion.  References Caldwell, L. K. (1990). The Administrative Republic: The Contrasting Legacies of Hamilton and Jefferson. Public Administration Quarterly, 470-493. Retrieved from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40862259?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents Cox III, R. W., Buck, S., & Morgan, B. (2015). Public administration in theory and practice. Routledge. Leys, W. A. (2018). Ethics and administrative discretion. In Classics of administrative ethics (pp. 27-47). Routledge. Newbold, S. P. (2016). 1a. Toward a Constitutional School for American Public Administration. In The Constitutional School of American Public Administration (pp. 24-44). Routledge. Rosenbloom, D. H. (2016). 3a. Public Administrative Theory and the Separation of Powers. In The Constitutional School of American Public Administration (pp. 78-94). Routledge. Tumin, M. (2018). Public Administration: A Very Short Introduction. Institutions and Economies.

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