Thursday, October 12, 2006

Politics-Administration Dichotomy in the USC

Nonetheless, understanding the politics-administration dichotomy might be very important in understanding the dynamics of the USC due to its fused politico-administrative character. The dichotomy stems from the notion that politics and administration can never be totally isolated from each other, no matter how big or small the bureaucracy is. In terms of structure, the administrative portion of the bureaucracy is clearly accountable to the political branches of government, to the policies laid down by the political actors at a given time. It is to these policies that the entire administrative machinery must hold itself by, operate and implement its resources. An agency simply cannot run without general policy directions by a political executive. To this extent even, efficient public administration is compromised and sacrificed to meet political exigencies and expediencies. In the University Student Council, for instance, while it is more convenient to hold a high-profile benefit concert or sports fests at the start of a semester when most students are not yet immersed in their academic load, it is an understated policy to hold events like these a few months before the election season begins – to highlight that an incumbent University Student Council does deliver projects to its constituents. In this case, it is for the sake of political expediency to have these projects on strategic dates like such, sometimes overruling general practicality and logistical efficiency.

But should not a bureaucracy be as Weber quipped – a formal organization, with the characteristics of hierarchy, division of labor, specialization, impersonality, rules and regulations, strict subordination and continuity? Should not the University Student Council as a small bureaucracy in the larger bureaucracy of the University operate like a bureaucracy in the classical Weberian sense in order to fully meet its goals and objectives? Theoretically, yes. The reality, however, is that the characteristics as set out above are not entirely applied either consciously or unconsciously by the little bureaucracy that is the USC. While the hierarchy inside the student council is recognized, it is more out of mutual respect and not insofar that there exists a strict subordination by the councilors and all the other staff in the organization to the Chairperson. While there is specialization and division of labor in terms of the creation and operation of committees on a wide array of concerns, the specialization is not in the manner that these committees can already exist independent of the micro-management of the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson. Usually, these committees still wait for general directions before they operate on issues and projects, even if it be clear that these issues and projects are in line with the general policy directions of an incumbent student council.

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