(PA 319 MT 1 10233 and PA 319 A 11855)


Time:                Mondays 4-7 pm                                                                                     Spring 2004


Place:               Montpelier


Professor          Frank Bryan          

Tel:                   656-0570

Office:              Room 540 Old Mill Building

Office Hours:    Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays 9-10 am, and by appointment

Web Page:




Grading System:                       Class Presentation  - 30%,   Paper - 50%,  Short Final Essay - 20%


Final Draft of Paper Due:          Monday, April 26


Reading Material (Required):


Frank Bryan and John McClaughry, The Vermont Papers: Recreating Democracy on a Human Scale (Chelsea, Vermont: The Chelsea Green Press, 1989).


Michael Sherman, Vermont State Government Since 1965 (Burlington: The Center for Research on Vermont and the Snelling Center for Government, 1999).


Other required reading material will be made available as the course unfolds.


Course Design


            This course has two core goals: (1) A nuts and bolts appreciation for structures and processes of state-level public administration and (2) an understanding of the fundamental problems of managerial science that confront managers in state government.


            A few examples of the areas in which these problems arise are:


·        line/staff

·        specialization/generalization

·        rules/innovation

·        leadership/followership

·        direction/motivation

·        hierarchy/networks

·        facts/values

·        democracy/authority



Beyond these core goals, it is important to understand that I view public administration in the context of the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences.  Even (perhaps especially) those working toward a professional, "terminal" degree like the MPA and who intend to build a career managing the public sector need to seek out and attempt to understand the great questions of politics and administration that have confronted the human race since we began to gather together to accomplish mutual goals.


            There is, moreover, a utility in this approach.  Managers who can place themselves comfortably in the history of ideas and the dynamics of causation and who have acquired the habit of treating their day-to-day decisions in the context of such notions, are in the long run, it seems to me, happier managers and happier managers are more efficient managers.


            It is often said that the term "practical theorist" is an oxymoron.  I don’t believe that. I believe there is nothing more "practical" than a theory that works—a paradigm that delivers. 


            The course is divided in two parts, my lectures and structured student presentations.  In my lectures I will deal with fundamental questions that will be raised in one form or another (I hope) in the papers you write.  This is a traditional seminar.  That is, it relies on the blending of student and teacher knowledge and experience.  Key to my heuristic bias in designing this seminar is the following model:  A professor builds an argument over the years and students come together to explore and to test it.  It is from this exchange that learning happens.


            My argument is found in The Vermont Papers.   This book is my best shot at creating a design for a system of governance that meets the expectations of certain principles of democracy that I hold.  One of your jobs in this seminar is to see if it stands in the face of your own scholarship. Another is to try to see if The Vermont Papers model could be effectively managed. This process, I hope, will add spice to the bulk of your work and hopefully tease out some creative thinking on your part that will help us build a better democratic governance here in Vermont or wherever your career may take you.


Paper Design


            Your paper should do four things:


            (1) It should describe in detail the structure of a state administrative office (agency, department, division, board or whatever).  This description should anchor the authority of the office as it is manifest in the State Constitution and statutory and (or) administrative enactments. It should place the office in its administrative setting in state government, outline the configuration of the office internally, and describe any regional administrative apparatus it may have.


            (2) It should describe in detail some policy this office administers.  This policy should likewise be traced to Constitutional, statutory, and administrative authority.  How the policy is implemented in the context of its administrative environment should consume a significant portion of your paper.



            (3) It should treat some of the important universal questions of management that I raise in my lectures.  The paper should not be designed to do this.  These observations should accompany the narration of the policy's implementation mentioned in (2) above.


(4) It should contain a section entitled:  "How would this policy be implemented (both in terms of structure and process) if Bryan had his way—as outlined in The Vermont Papers?"  Would it work better or would it be a disaster?





Lecture/Participation Seminars








Jan. 26

Studying State Administration




Feb. 2

The Culture of State Administration in Vermont


The Vermont Papers Parts I and II


Feb. 9

Bureaucracy and the Concept of Human Scale—Theory and Practice


The Vermont Papers Part III


Feb. 23

Comparative State Administration

Hanson, “Intergovernmental Relations” (copy provided)

Elling, “Administering State Programs” (copy provided)



Mar. 1

Complexity in Vermont’s State Administration:  Anomaly or True to Form

In Sherman’s Vermont State Government:


Fitzhugh, “The Executive

Douglas, “Administrative Offices”

Ristau, “The State and the Federal Government”



Mar. 8

The Political Context of Vermont State Administration

Bryan, “The Rural Technopolity” (copy provided)


In Sherman’s Vermont State Government:

Sanford and Doyle, “The General Assembly”

Bryan, “Interest Politics and Lobbying”

Graff, “Parties and Politics”


NOTE:  Other readings will be made available as the dynamic of the course requires.









State Administration in Practice (Student Presentations)


     Specific examples and the required reading to accompany them (mostly from Sherman) will depend on the cases selected by the seminar participants.


Student Presentations (topics due February 9)






Mar. 22




Mar. 29




April 5




April 12




April 19












April 26

Papers Due



May 3

Final Exam—A “Take Home” Short Essay