Professor Frank Bryan



PA 319  State Administration  (crn 60204)


            This is a traditional graduate seminar.  The trouble is such things don’t fit the “three weeks in and out intensive” format of summer school for in service professionals.  Thus the somewhat convoluted format that follows. In short we will have a week of four hour classes in which I will lecture every night and you will read as much as is possible.  Then there will be three weeks in which we will have one class a week and you will have time to read and reflect and begin to prepare your papers.  Then there will be another two week pause with no classes while you write your papers, followed by the final eight hours of classes in which you present your papers. 




Grading System:   Class Presentation   50%  Final Paper  50%


Reading Material (Required):


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


Herbert Jacob and Virginia Gray Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis (Washington, D.C.: The Congressional Quarterly Press, 1995). This is the basic source text for the course.


Ann Bowman and Richard Kearney "The Evolution of Federalism" in: State and Local Government (Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990) pp. 20 - 49.


Other readings will be made available according to paper assignments.


Course Design


            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 that understand their place in the history of ideas and the dynamics of causation and who have acquired the habit of placing 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.


            Accordingly my goal in this course is to treat some of the core questions of administrative science as they are manifest in state-level governance.  I see the development of a "nuts and bolts" appreciation for the structure and processes of state administration as an important outcome of the course.  But it is an outcome designed to sneak up on us as we confront more theoretical constructs.


            It is often held that the term "practical theorist" bears oxymoronic properties.  Perhaps.  But it is my contention that there is nothing more "practical" than a theory that works -- a paradigm that delivers. 


            The course is divided in two parts, my lectures and 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 of the blending of student and teacher knowledge and experience.  Key to my heuristic bias in designing this seminar is the following model developed on the continent prior to the American experience: 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 a 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.



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?