Accountability in Public Offices

In the 1940s, two political theorists, Carl J. Friedrich1 and Herman Finer2, debated a critical question of accountability in US public administration—how much should one rely on formal prescriptions and control mechanisms, and how much must one depend on what we have called the inner compasses of persons entrusted with public responsibilities? In other words, how much can we rely on the laws to keep administrators in check, and how much can we rely on the moral consciences of our administrators?


  • Analyze and explain which is a better accountability of measure, external or internal controls or the character of the administrator.
    • Define in detail how you support your choice.
  • Explain why or why not you believe that most citizens today view public service as the highest and noblest calling.
    • If not, describe what would need to change for this to be true.


Submit your answers in a double-spaced, 4- to 6-page Microsoft Word document, not counting the cover and reference pages.

Cite sources using the APA format on a separate page.

1Friedrich, C. J. (1940). Public policy and the nature of administrative responsibility. In C. J. Friedrich            & E. S. Mason (Eds.), Public policy (pp. 3–24). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

2Finer, H. (1941). Administrative responsibility in democratic government. Public Administration Review,            1(summer 1941), 335–350.