International Journual of Public Administration Vol 5 Number 3

Staff Professional Competency Strategy: A Call for Action

Thomas D. Lynch

Department of Public Administration
Florida international University
Bay Vista Campus – ACI-200
North Miami, Florida 33181


Staff unites, e.g., budget offices, can be improved. This article recommends a comprehensive macro strategy to improve professional competency of public Administration staff units. This represents a call for action among the Public Administration community.

This paper is a recommended strategy for improving the professional competency of public administration staff units. This is not a research report but rather a call for action among the public administration community. The assumptions of this call are based on this author’s education and experience in public administration in general and public budgeting in particular. This paper’s scope is limited to staff functions because this author believes that the education and professional knowledge for staff functions are similar but fundamentally different from line supervisors and executives. Staff require a much greater depth of knowledge and specialized skills that do line officials. Thus, their professional education and development should be tailored to their professional situation.

The remaining portion of this paper defines the professional problem and recommended solution. The challenge of hiring and developing professional staff personnel is explored with the conclusion that existing education and on the job training approaches are inadequate. The role and use of training is explained as well as its implicit current inadequacies. The importance of professional incentives is explained and the current lack of such incentives is noted. A recommended set of solutions is explained which calls for an active American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) lobbying effort, more Ph.D. degree programs oriented to staff functions, suggested areas of useful research, and key efforts to promote greater professionalism. Those keys include defining skills and knowledge appropriate for each professional sub-field, developing diagnostic testing for professionals, establishing mechanisms to critique education and training, and means to recognize achievement of professional competency standards and excellence. The latter includes professional licensing and certifications.

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