Concept of Public Services

In 1996, United Nations adopted an International Code of Conduct for public officials. As per the document, public service is defined as the class and tasks of officials who act as delegates of elected officials. The elected representatives embody the legitimacy to define the public interest, while public service ensures that the public interest is served, and public trust is maintained.

In simple words, public services are defined as those services which are partially or fully funded by the government.

Features/attributes of public service

  1. Intangible:
  2. Morality:
  3. Obligatory:
  4. The government-led: They are provided by a large-scale legal and administrative framework which affects the entire social-economic structure of society.
  5. Citizen centric: It is social-good-oriented rather than profit-oriented.
  6. Collectively: Public accountability is the essence of public services because these services involve outputs that are hard to attribute to specific individual efforts. If anything, wrong happens people blame the government rather that the individual.
  7. Equality
  8. Vitality: Certain public services are vital for the existence of the community itself. Eg – water, transport, food etc.
  9. Political direction and scrutiny: Public service is provided by the administration which works under political direction and scrutiny.
  10. Local or national monopoly: Public services are usually provided by local or national monopolies, especially in a sector that is a natural monopoly (eg: law & order, judiciary).

Various public servants

  • Individuals
  • Civil society
  • Media
  • Politicians
  • Other government organs
  • Civil servants

 How are civil servants different from public servants?

  • Professional
  • Career
  • Appointed
  • Mandatory code of conduct

Significance of public services

  • Morality
  • Rights and entitlements
  • Essential
  • Equality and equity
  • Social stability
  • Performance evaluation
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