This paper analyses a discussion on the issue of administrative discretion as opposed to the strict adherence of the laid down procedures. In all forms of governments, there exist laws governing the way people live and how they relate to each other. The object of this is to ensure harmony in the society for an improved welfare of the people. Administrative discretion means the grant of an option of choosing a particular response on some course of action regarding public affairs. Therefore, the decision is to be made by a public body or person with the authority to do so.
The concept of public discretion has had a fair share of debate. There are those who support the idea of discretion while others completely oppose the discretion to be allowed of public bodies. These groups have their arguments supporting or opposing the respective schools of thought. Max Webber is amongst those who have been ardent supporters of the strict following of the laid down procedures for the public administrators.
From the analysis of facts concerning discretion by public administrators, I join Max in giving the support for the strict adherence of the laid down or predetermined procedures. This is informed from the premises that quite often; public administrators misuse any chance of discretion that is allocated to them. Even where the law or guidelines are clear and straight forward, they often disregard the law and do as they please. This they do for some predetermined gain. They get kickbacks from the decisions they make In most developing countries, corruption is said to be a major challenge to economic development of those states. Where funds are to be used for economic and worthwhile development projects, the funds end up being embezzled and misused. It is difficult for the public administrators to exercise fairly discretion given the awful common habit of shortchanging the real beneficiaries of some funding through the decisions being made by the public administrators.
However, there are advantages associated with strict adherence or allowing discretion of the public administrators as they perform their daily chores. With the award of discretion powers, it allows for the proper reasoning before a decision is made. This means that only appropriate choice is made since there exist or is allowed to select the most suitable decision that would benefit the designated group or groups of people in the society.
It makes it fast and quick for the drawing of decisions or deliberations. This is because by having an alternative set of reasoning, the public administrator is quickly able to decide based on the issue at hand instead of strictly following some laid down procedures that may be impractical to implement on the ground. Different regions would experience its own set of challenges based on their environment. This would call for ways that are conversant with the local setting for the determination or solving of the issues. It thereby becomes easy and fast since there are available different set of options from which the public administrators can draw their conclusions.
Its shortcomings are of worthy to be noted, given their common occurrence in the societies. It gives rise to abuse of the discretion granted or allowed. Where an officer is allowed to decide on a course of action, they often skew the decision with a calculated goal of making some gain out it. This leads to drawing of inappropriate decisions leading to the suffering of the people who ought to have been served by the public administrators in a fair and proper way.
The promotion of the strict adherence to the law has also its share of goodies and limitations. Those who are of this plan or system cite the presence of clearly drawn laws and regulations for following and thereby predictable of what needs to be done by a public administrator (Stillman, 2010). This gives no room for irregular programs or deals to be hatched in the pretext of exercising discretion. Therefore, it is easy for anyone to discern right procedure or wrong process.
There is also the argument that having a predetermined procedure in place helps to create a precedence that every other public administrator in similar position would follow. This creates uniformity in the operations of the government and thereby easy for new inexperienced administrators of the state to follow them. It also makes it difficult for any public administrator to ignore the normal procedure that is easily identified and recognized and engage in other unfamiliar or new processes not recognized by the state.
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The main limitation is its inflexibility nature. Applying the same response to every issue cannot be practical different challenges depending on their nature and form, for effective determination would call for appropriate means (Kettl, 2009). This may be different from the normal laid down procedure. Therefore, there is need to strike a balance between need to have strict adherence to the laid down rules and procedure and the need to allow for some level of discretion. This is in the aim of ensuring that citizens are served well for their own good.
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