LAST REVISED: April 3, 2006

Sacramento State University

Department of Public Policy and Administration


PPA 297A&B:


Fall and Spring, 2005-06



Nancy Shulock, Ph.D.                                               

Associate Professor, Public Policy and Administration        

Director, Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy      

Tahoe Hall 3062

(916) 278-7249


Seminar meetings:

Fridays, 9:15a.m. -12 p.m.  (Friday 1-4 p.m. is alternate meeting time if conflicts arise)

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, 2nd floor conference room

1400 Tenth Street (Corner of 10th and N Streets), downtown Sacramento


Course Objectives


This course is designed to complement the Fellow’s placement with a combination of theory and practical knowledge to help you make sense of, and contribute to, your executive branch department.   As a staff member in the executive branch, you will be involved in policy issues from the perspective of a public agency that plays a critical role in policy development and implementation.  Therefore, the course is intended to help fellows understand the policy process and the organizational environment in which public policies are confronted and managed.  Your experience in the state bureaucracy sets this program apart from the legislative fellowship programs.  Your colleagues in those programs may spend more seminar time on specific policy or political issues.  For our program, it is important that we focus on the role that executive branch organizations play in the policy process and the factors that make those organizations more or less effective.  While we will certainly bring current political and policy issues into the class discussion, we will take a broader and more historical look at the policy process and the role that public servants in the executive branch play in a democracy.


The three major units of the course address three major learning goals for the course:


1.   The search for responsive government: Students will learn about the various meanings of effective government and various efforts to reform government to make it more effective. 

2.   Understanding the policy process: Students will learn about the different roles of various actors in the policy process, how and why policy change occurs, and about distinctive features of the policy environment in California.

3.   Understanding and being effective in organizations: Students will learn about the functions and dysfunctions of organizations and their leaders, along with practical skills that California’s public sector leaders need.


An overriding goal of this course is to heighten your appreciation for, and your commitment to, public service.  As you know well, negative notions of “bureaucrats” and “bureaucracy” are commonplace.  We hope, through the readings and discussions in the seminar, to enrich your understanding of the vital role and the contributions of public servants.  We want you to complete the Executive Fellowship Program with an even greater commitment to public service than that which led you to this program in the first place.



Seminar Format and Expectations


The seminar is a required component of your program.  While I understand that you may be more excited about your agency placement than about the seminar, the two go hand in hand and you cannot be successful in the fellowship program without being successful in the seminar as well.  Mentors are aware of this requirement and have been advised to ensure that Friday mornings are free for fellows to attend the seminar.  It is possible that on rare occasions fellows will have an unavoidable conflict directly related to one’s placement (e.g., the need to make an out-of-town presentation).  Any fellow who finds it necessary to miss a seminar should clear it with me first and will be responsible to make up any missed assignments and demonstrate completion of that week’s readings.


Seminars are a mix of discussions of the readings, presentations by guests from throughout state public service, and student-led discussions that relate course topics to their placement experiences.  It is very important that you do the reading.  In fact, it is so important that your primary assignment will be to write a one-page response piece to the readings on ten separate occasions.  There will be little or no lecturing.  This is a graduate seminar and the fun in that lies in having lively, provocative, and respectful conversations and debates about the issues at hand.  I expect students to come to the seminar having read the assigned material and ready to discuss it.  A significant part of your grade will be your participation in these discussions – demonstrating your ability to relate readings to one another and to your placement experience.  


At the end of each class, time permitting, we will collectively recap by recalling key concepts that we have discussed.  Over the weeks, then, we will assemble a kind of “tool box” of concepts that you can draw on to help you understand what you are observing in your placement and to help you with your policy and management memos, due March 3 and May 5, respectively.


To ensure that we all begin with no misunderstandings, I need to make an important point about what seminar is not.  Seminar is not a place where we will solve the world’s problems (or even those of California).  You can solve problems (or try) in your placement.  Seminar is a place where we will confront the many complexities of public policy in a democratic system of government in perhaps the most complicated political and social environment in the country.  There are no easy answers, and there is no obligation in a graduate seminar to solve problems.  I want you to embark on your public service career with a rich set of thoughts, concepts, and tools on which to draw when you do confront problems.  I believe that thoughtful and broadly educated public servants are the most effective public servants.


So, in summary, here are my expectations, which, if you follow, should make you successful:

·         Do the reading each week.

·         Come to seminar on time, with homework completed, and prepared to discuss the readings.

·         Open your mind to big-picture thinking and to contrary points of view and be respectful of those views.

·         Open your mind to the importance of organizations and how they function, in the overall policy context.

·         Pay careful attention to your writing, in your assignments.



Assignments and grading


Reflections in response to weekly readings.  The primary set of assignments is a 1-page reflection in response to the weekly readings.  Each student must do 10 of these over the course of the year.  In recognition of your variable workloads at the office, you can pick the weeks.  This is also a way for me to ensure good class dialogue because students will be asked to present their ideas in class.  The reflection must be analytical (not simply a summary of main points), in that you will assert an opinion or position about the reading(s) and defend it.  It should use headings and bullets and be brief and easy to read.  For example, you can state the argument that you found the most compelling, or the weakest, or the most relevant to what you’ve observed in your placement and cite your reasons for that.  Alternatively, you can compare and contrast two or more readings, citing similarities or differences and deciding which makes more sense.  You can compare one week’s readings to something we discussed earlier.  Or, you could write more generally about how the reading made you think about your interest in public service.  You will be graded on both content and writing style. 


Policy memo.  This assignment will draw on what we have read and discussed about the policy process generally and the policy environment in California.  You will select a specific policy issue that is of importance to your department and write a 3-4 page memo that analyzes how your department can best accomplish its goals with respect to the issue.  Topics to include might be: how to get it on the policy agenda, how to use the media most effectively, how to deal with interest group opposition, how to garner public support, how best to frame the issue, what kind of research or analysis to present to whom, how to deal with expected turnover in legislators or committee leadership, how to deal with budget implications, etc.  Because the issues you will write about will be relevant to all of you, regardless of specific policy issue, we will leave time during the year to discuss these before they are due, and again, when they are completed.


Management memo.  This assignment will draw on what we have read and discussed about public sector organizations and the factors that promote or impede their effectiveness in providing public services or otherwise fulfilling their missions.  You will write a 3-4 page memo that discusses how your organization might increase its effectiveness.  Possible topics would include greater involvement of citizens, improved planning processes, different hiring practices, better internal communication about performance objectives, improved budget or data systems, etc.  Again, there should be considerable commonality of issues across your organizations to enable us to discuss these in class, both as you are working on them and after they are done.



The final course grade will be determined as follows:

      Seminar participation        20%

      Short reflections (10)        50%

      Policy memo                     15%

      Management memo           15%



Required Readings


Readings will consist of three books, along with numerous articles and reports, mostly available on-line (a few may be distributed to you).  You absolutely need access to a computer and printer to do the required reading.  I realize that it is hard to read long reports online, and may be inconvenient to print them, but you will have to do whichever works best for you.  We cannot supply all of the material to you.



         David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, Reinventing Government, Plume Books, 1993.

         John Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policy, Harper Collins, Second Edition, 1995.

         Kenneth Ashworth, Caught Between the Dog and the Fireplug, or How to Survive Public Service, Georgetown University Press, 2001.


Some of the articles, reports, and websites are listed below under the weekly topics, but I will fill it out as the year evolves.  Be sure to consult the web version of the syllabus to be up to date with readings and assignments. 



Schedule of Class Sessions


Any eight-month schedule of classes and topics is subject to change.  I will maintain an updated version of this syllabus on my website which you should consult on a weekly basis for possible changes to class meeting dates, scheduled topics, readings, and guests.  I will also add discussion questions to the weekly topics as we go along.





      Session 1:  The California Context for Policymaking

         Gerston and Christensen, Recall! California’s Political Earthquake, Preface and Chapters 1-3


Session 2: Problems of Governance

         Public Policy Institute of California: “Toward 2025: The Governance Challenges of Public Investment”

         Peter Schrag, “Paradise Lost,” Chapter 1

         Grading the States 2005 - California


Session 3:  Efforts and Challenges of Reform

         About the California Performance Review:

         Governor Schwarzenegger’s State of the State speech and related press release

         Various newspaper articles and columns on politics of reform and various reform initiatives


      Session 4:  Writing for Government

         Musso, Biller, Myrtle, Tradecraft: Professional Writing as Problem-solving

         Various sample memos and executive summary




Part I:       The Search for Responsive Government   


Week 1 (Nov 4):          The “Reinventing Government” Movement and the “New Public Management”


·         Osborne and Gaebler, Reinventing Government, entire book (including preface and introduction).  Get an early start in the weeks ahead.


Discussion questions:

         Do the authors make a convincing case for the paradigm shift in the values that underlie the operation of government?

         How well do business practices apply to government?  Are there limits? 

         How does their view account for the role of politics in determining what government should do and how it should do it?

         Who are the customers of your department?  Do all government services have customers whose interests should determine service levels?

         Do you see evidence of mission-driven, results orientation in your agency?

         If public servants act like entrepreneurs, whose values do they represent and how are they to be held accountable?



            Week 2 (Nov 11):        Citizens or Customers: Finding the Public Interest

            Note: this is not a University holiday: seminar will be at Sacramento State: Capistrano Hall, Room 327



         Richard Box, et. al, “New Public Management and Substantive Democracy,” Public Administration Review, Sept/Oct 2001, 61(5)

         Linda deLeon and Robert Denhardt, “The Political Theory of Reinvention,” Public Administration Review, March/April  2000, 60(2).


                  Discussion questions:

         Do these articles make you reevaluate any of your reactions to Osborne and Gaebler’s arguments?

         What is the public interest?  How does a public manager determine this?

         What is the difference between a citizen and a customer?

         How can we retain the best aspects of the reinvention movement without losing a focus on the public interest?

         How might you, as a public manager, act differently if you viewed your primary responsibility as serving customers than if you viewed your primary role as advancing democracy?



            Week 3 (Nov 18):        Public Attitudes Toward Government;  Civic Engagement



      John Kirlin, “The Big Questions of Public Administration in a Democracy,” Public Administration Review, Sept/Oct, 1996, 56(5).

      The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, The Civic and Political Health of the Nation: A Generational Portrait,  September, 2002.


Guest: Mary Kirlin, Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Sacramento State



            Week 4 (Dec 2):          The Context and Challenges of Government Reform 



·         Peri Arnold, “Reform’s Changing Role,” Public Administration Review, Sept/Oct 1995, 55(5).

·         Little Hoover Commission, Governing the Golden State: A Critical Path to Improve Performance and Restore Trust


                  Guest: Jim Mayer, Executive Director of Little Hoover Commission



Week 5 (Dec 9):          Accountability for Performance: Can It Increase Public Support?



·         Book review of Robert Behn, Rethinking Democratic Accountability

·         Janet Kelly, “The Dilemma of the Unsatisfied Customer in a Market Model of Public Administration,” Public Administration Review, Jan/Feb 2005, Vol 65, No.1.

·         CPR Volume I: “Accountable Government



      Week 6 (Dec 16): Getting the Right State Workforce



         Little Hoover Commission, Serving the Public: Managing the State Workforce to Improve Outcomes



                  Guest: Michael Navarro, Director, Department of Personnel Administation




Part II:           Understanding the Policy Environment



            January 6:            NO SEMINAR


            Week 7 (Jan 13):        Influencing Public Policy: What Are The Roles Of The Various Actors?



            Kingdon, Chapters 1, 2, 3



            Week 8 (Jan 20):        Policy Processes: Problems, Policies, Politics



                  Kingdon, Chapters 5, 6, 7  (note we skip chapter 4)


            Week 9 (Jan 27):        How and Why Does Policy Change Occur?



                  Kingdon, Chapter 8, 9, 10



            Week 10 (Feb 3):        Policymaking in California:  Direct Democracy



                     J. Fred Silva, The California Initiative Process: Background and Perspective, PPIC 2000

         PPIC: The California Initiative Process: How Democratic Is It? (5 pages)

         Elizabeth Gerber, Interest Group Influence in the California Initiative Process, PPIC


                  Guest: Tim Hodson, Executive Director, Center for California Studies 



            Week 11 (Feb 10):   Policymaking in California: Term Limits    



         Bruce Cain and Thad Kousser, Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions



         Interview at least one legislative staffer (not a fellow but someone who has been there at least a few years) about the impact on term limits on the functioning of the legislature.  Send me an email before class telling me who you interviewed come to class prepared to talk about what they said.


                  Guests:  panel of “seasoned” public servants/legislative staffers to discuss “before” and “after” term limits


                  Deborah Gonzalez – Chief of Staff for Senator Poochigian

                  David Walrath – Lobbyist, Murdoch Walrath, & Holmes

                  Martin Helmke – Chief Consultant, Senate Appropriations Committee



            Week 12 (Feb 17):      Student-led Discussions



            Week 13 (Feb 24):  (1) Policymaking in California – case study: Preschool and the First Five Commission on Children and Families; (2) Review of Parts I and II of Seminar



                  Four issues of the Commission’s Newsletter:

·         July, 2001

·         March, 2002

·         Fall, 2003

·         Summer, 2004


                  Guest:  Roberta Peck, California Children and Families Commission (First Five)






Part III:          Understanding Organizations and Skills for Effective Public Service


            Week 14 (March 3):   Leadership, Organizational Culture, and Change, Part 1


                  Readings: (to be distributed)

·      Gareth Morgan, Images of Organization, Chapters 1, 10-12

·         Paul Nutt, “Prompting the Transformation of Public Organizations,” Public Performance & Management Review,  June, 2004, including a commentary on Nutt article by Gerald Caiden.



            Week 15 (March 10): Leadership, Organizational Culture, and Change, Part 2



·       Denhardt and Denhardt, The New Public Service, Chapter 8 (to be distributed)

·         Martha Gilliland, “Leading a Public University,” Public Administration Review May/June 2004, Vol. 64, No. 3

·         Robert Behn, “Performance Leadership: 11 Practices that can Rachet up Performance,” May, 2004.

·         Robert Behn, The Behn Report, May, 2005  (2 pages)



            March 17: SPRING BREAK – NO SEMINAR – start reading Ashworth book!



            Week 16 (March 24):       Working in the Public Sector



·         Ashworth, Caught Between the Dog and the Fireplug, or How to Survive Public ServiceEntire book except SKIP pages 89-120.



            March 31: CESAR CHAVEZ HOLIDAY – NO SEMINAR  (students may submit weekly memo on Ashworth book – if different topic than previous week’s memo)



            Week 17 (April 7):            Performance Measurement; Performance Management



·        Robert Behn, “The Behn Report”  (2-pages each)

o       July, 2004  (read this one first)

o       June, 2004

o       November, 2005

·       Robert Behn, “The Psychological Barriers to Performance Management, or why isn’t everyone jumping on the performance-management bandwagon?” Public Performance and Management Review, Sept 2002

(To be distributed)

·         Sharon Caudle, “Homeland Security: Approaches to Results Management,” Public Performance and Productivity Review, March, 2005.  (To be distributed)



            Week 18 (April 14):          Budget development and advocacy



·         Department of Finance, Description of California Budget Process, and  flowchart

·         Jacqueline Rogers and Marita Brown, “Preparing Agency Budgets” from Roy Meyers, Handbook of Government Budgeting, 1999. (To be distributed)

·         Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2006-07 Governor’s Budget, Perspectives and Issues, Part I: State Fiscal Picture, or, if you prefer the PDF file, click here, select top item and read pp. 13-23.

·         Two examples of Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis of an agency budget request from Analysis of 2006-07 Governor’s Budget:

o       Department of Mental Health

o       Air Resources Board


                  Guest: John Decker, Senate Appropriations Committee


            Week 19 (April 21):          Bill analysis and advocacy


                  Readings: Case Study of Bill Advocacy for CalPERS (distributed in class)


                  Guest: Karen Neuwald, member of Public Employment Relations Board; former director of legislation for CalPERS.



            Week 20 (April 28):          Student-led discussions



            May 5: Interviews for new Fellows (Sacramento) – NO SEMINAR


·         Management memo due



            May 12: Interviews in LA – NO SEMINAR


            Week 21 (May 19):           Student-led discussions (rescheduled from May 5)