Program content section from UNDESA/IASIA Standards of Excellence for Public Administration Education and Training

(reproduced from UNDESA/IASIA, 2008, pp 9-10)

  1. Program coherence and consistency: the content of a program should logically follow from the program goals, objectives and chosen educational strategy.
  2. Program level: the content should be adapted to the level appropriate for the target group(s).
  3. Formal program requirements: the content should encompass the elements prescribed in requisites for a certificate or degree.
  4. Program basis: the content of the program should, appropriate to the level of the program, reflect international ‘state-of-the-art’ concepts and insights, theories and methods. As far as possible, the methods/procedures/policies taught should be ‘evidence-based’.
  5. Multidisciplinary: the content of the program should reflect the multidisciplinary basis of the public administration field.
  6. Practical experience: Degree granting programs should be structured in such a manner as to insure that all graduates have had some sort of structured experience in the public or not for profit sector.
  7. Community consultation: In the development of both training and degree granting programs, the needs of the organizations for which the individual is being prepared is of critical importance. Toward that end there must be appropriate consultation and dialogue.
  8. Curriculum components: The program or training curriculum shall enhance the student’s competencies, values, knowledge, and skills to act ethically, equitably, effectively and with efficiency: Subject to the mission of the program, they should include:
The Management of Public Service Organizations:
  • Human resource management
  • Budgeting and financial processes
  • Information management, new technology applications, and policy
  • Administrative and constitutional law
  • Effective communication skills
  • Organization and management concepts and behavior
  • Not for profit and private sector relationships and grant management
Improvement of Public Sector Processes:
  • Development of high performing organizations
  • Management of networks and partnerships
  • The delivery of public goods and services
  • Management of projects and contracts
  • Supporting workforce diversity
  • Motivation and design of public sector organizations
Leadership in the Public Sector:
  • Creative and innovative problem solving
  • Leading institutional and organizational transformation
  • Conflict prevention and resolution strategies
  • Promoting equity in service delivery
  • Developing approaches to poverty alleviation
  • Promoting democratic institutional development
  • Public Sector Ethics
The Application of Quantitative and Qualitative Techniques of Analysis:
  • Institutional and developmental economics
  • Policy and program formulation, analysis, implementation and evaluation
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Strategic planning
Understanding Public Policy and the Organizational Environment:
  • Political and legal institutions and processes
  • Economic and social institutions and processes
  • Historical and cultural context
  • The management of economic development
  • The implications of the “third party government”
  • Acknowledging and reconciling cultural diversity

These area requirements do not prescribe specific courses. Neither do they imply that equal time should be spent on each area or that these courses must all be offered by public affairs, public policy or public administration programs. Nor should they be interpreted in a manner that might impede the development of special strengths or areas of specialization in each program.

There are other criteria that are relevant for assessing the excellence of programs. Such criteria refer to more general aspects of the program and contribute to the more overarching goals that are critical to the well being of any society. Consequently, programs preparing individuals for the public sector, or to enhance their skills, should have content addressing the following:

Public sector ethos: all education or training programs produced for the public sector should contribute towards the development of individuals with a true public sector ethos who can be characterized as being knowledgeable about and understanding the importance for an effective public sector of:

  • Democratic values
  • Respect for individual and basic human rights
  • Social equity and the equitable distribution of goods and services
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Sustainable development
  • Organizational justice and fairness
  • Recognition of global interdependence
  • Civic engagement

Public sector skills: education and training programs preparing individuals for the public sector should enable (with respect to the goals and the level of the program) those participating to build personal capacities for:

  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Dealing with complexity
  • Flexibility
  • Dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Operating in a political environment
  • Building high performing organizations
  • Involving other groups and institutions in society to realize policy goals
  • Life time learning
  • Applying life experiences to academic and training activities

Public sector nature: educational or training programs produced for the public sector (with respect to the goals and the level of the program) should address:

  • Internationalization and globalization
  • The balance between centralization and decentralization
  • Impact of multinational organizations and agreements
  • Weakening of the state (the influence of cutbacks and new public management)
  • New modes of communication and their impact
  • Collaborative governance

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 9 December 2015.