The role of public administration, government and self-government in the new political and economic conditions
Economic aspects cannot be the only guide (and, moreover, it has been proved on many occasions abroad that the exclusion of public tasks from the responsibilities of public authorities did not bring expected savings, however, it resulted in the erosion of the values and principles upon which the provision of public services was based). After all, our country has also witnessed hasty abolition of control authorities, for example, which will have to be reestablished (as e.g. in the area of consumer protection, also with a view to the EU criteria). It should also be stated clearly that stress on the conception of public administration as service to the public does not mean, on the other hand, a denial of the power, authoritative component of public administration. This comprises tasks in the sphere of security and internal order, regulation and enforcement of the fulfilling of legal duties, the application of administrative supervision tools, the imposition and execution of sanctions within the limits of administrative authority etc. The material content and extent of public tasks and public services depend on how the importance of social automatisms and the extent of state intervention is viewed at a specific period, how the balance between the freedom of an individual and his responsibility for himself on the one hand, and solidary care of the human community for an individual and responsibility for him on the other hand operate. This is a matter of protection and execution of interests and values recognized by the decisive majority of citizens. The definition of the role of public administration, government and self-government in the new political and economic conditions has not attracted sufficient attention in the Czech Republic. This is connected with the overall ambiguity of the role of public and private sectors and of the responsibility of the State for creating conditions for their development. So far, reform documents only point out these problems at a general level. There is little understanding of the fact that this should be a principal conceptual change with practical consequences for the definition of functions and concrete tasks of public administration, the shape of its institutions, the means for its activities and its relations to citizens and to the public. The issue has its political, economic and other dimensions, and it is naturally determined by the Constitution and the legal order. What has been made so far both at the theoretical and practical level is not sufficient for the transition from the system in which public administration was understood primarily as a tool of power of the Party and State, to targeted and consistent implementation of the contemporary concept of democratic public administration. Modern democracies understand public administration primarily as service to citizens and to the public. Such understanding of the basic role of public administration is the foundation from which its principles (such as transparency, publicity, accountability, public control of administration), forms and methods of activities, requirements for professional and impartial performance etc. are derived. The focus of public administration lies in providing public services. In addition to traditional services (municipal, health care, school, transport services etc.), they also include some "classical" administration activities in advanced countries, such as issuing licences, permits, documents, certificates, providing information etc. A number of these activities are no longer viewed as an exclusive domain of the State. Our new experience shows that many operational tasks, professional decision-making, execution of supervision, testing etc. can be decentralized and transferred to self-government or to private entities.