Spring 2017 - 61270 - PA384C - Public Management | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2017 - 61270 - PA384C - Public Management

When agencies fail to carry out their missions, when programs fail to operate efficiently, effectively, and fairly, and when agency staff fail to perform at their highest level, then management has failed.  Securing and retaining the public’s trust in the work of government rests squarely on the abilities and successful leadership of managers. The focus of this course will be to prepare students for management positions with the U.S. federal government or with agencies that have strong ties with the federal sector.

Increasingly, governments are called upon to be efficient and transparent in their operations and to serve as catalysts for—in addition to actual deliverers, redistributors, or regulators of—goods, services, and opportunities affecting the public. As such, the responsibilities of public managers are shifting increasingly to managing more dynamic, innovative, integrated, and collaborative organizations.

The course will be shaped around the main ‘levers’ that federal managers and policy makers have to work with. This would include teaching specifically about the U.S. federal government systems and rules.

To prepare for this profession, students will learn how to: develop and implement human resource plans; comply with civil service laws and protections; formulate regulatory and policy directives; develop strategies for procurement and contracting for goods and services; identify and exploit opportunities to offer advice and counsel to executive and congressional leadership; establish relationships with oversight and compliance authorities; and manage and design organizational systems that support sound management practice.

The course will integrate theories of management with actual experiences of those who have managed in order to help students develop skills and insights necessary to lead and manage national public organizations.


The course will integrate some theories of management with actual experiences of those who have managed in order to help participants develop skills and insights necessary to lead and manage public organizations.  Participants will learn how to: manage new and emerging challenges to public management; analyze management challenges; implement complex policy directives; identify and exploit opportunities to offer advice and counsel to agency leadership; and recruit and develop staff. Participants also will learn how to apply common sense and critical problem solving skills when facing management and leadership challenges.

Assignments & Assessments:

The course requires extensive reading to prepare for class, numerous writing activities, and a very high level of participation in class. Student assessment will be based upon: several 3 page memoranda; an on-the-spot briefing; an analytic memorandum that will frame a management issue—this will serve as a detailed outline for the final analysis; one 8 page final report analyzing a management issue; class participation; and a team project. There is no final examination.

Class participation is a graded course requirement because oral communication and group discernment are essential skills in the public sector.  Effective participation grows out of thorough preparation, listening to each other, useful questions and comments, and the ability to draw on broader knowledge and experiences.


All readings for the course will be available on Canvas, including case studies. There are no required texts.  While several readings are taken from the following texts, students seeking additional public administration scholarship may want to purchase these books:

  • Public Management: Thinking and Acting in Three Dimensions by Carolyn J. Hill and Laurence E. Lynn, Jr. 2015, CQ Press.
  • Bureaucracy by James Q. Wilson. 1989, Basic Books.
Class Schedule: 
9:00AM to 12:00PM
SRH 3.314/355