Administrative Discretion: can we move beyond the cider house rules

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Center for Nonprofit Policy and Practice


The authors use a novel, The Cider House Rules, as a framework to examine legitimate administrative action when execution of a law will result in harm. Four political values that have informed administrative dissent are reviewed: publicity, utility, democracy, and liberty. The authors identify questions to serve as guidelines for front-line administrators when deciding to exercise discretion in opposition to a political mandate. The questions offer checkpoints for considering whether administrative action in opposition to mandate is ethical. The authors extend the logic of the new public service by arguing that administrators are responsible for protecting liberty because liberty is constitutionally fundamental and particularly at risk in the case of citizens peripheral to political processes. The authors argue that administrative discretion in opposition to mandate requiring secrecy or misrepresentation may be exercised under particular circumstances, for the protection of individual liberty, given its elevated status among the regime values. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of American Review of Public Administration is the property of Sage Publications Inc. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)



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