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  • Mike Martinez

Public Service Exemplars: “A Finer Spirit of Hope and Achievement”

In August 2021, I signed a book contract with Routledge, an academic publisher from Great Britain and an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. According to the company’s website, Routledge "publishes approximately 1,800 journals and 5,000 new books each year" and the company's backlist encompasses over 70,000 titles. Routledge claims to be the largest global academic publisher in the humanities and social sciences fields.

The book I agreed to produce is titled Public Service Exemplars: “A Finer Spirit of Hope and Achievement.” It will be a scholarly examination of 28 unelected leaders within the field of American public administration. The manuscript is due in March 2023, with publication likely late in 2023 or early in 2024.

Within the public administration field, scholars have discussed the value of “public administration exemplars,” those outstanding men and women who have been effective in fulfilling their formal duties and leading their organizations. Some famous public administrators are the subjects of standalone books, but few texts highlight the accomplishments of American public servants who serve as models of excellence in public service. Public Service Exemplars: “A Finer Spirit of Hope and Achievement" seeks to fill that niche.

The thesis is that effective public servants (defined as unelected officials who conduct public business working inside a government agency at any level) understand the rules and regulations in their organizations, but they also are not afraid to find creative means of achieving their goals. Sometimes they work through organizational norms and customs, while at other times they bend the rules and seek a broader domain for the agency. Some effective servants have been charismatic individuals who relied on an outsized personality while others have been self-effacing introverts who labored quietly behind the scenes to achieve their goals. Their one commonality is a strong belief in government service and a willingness to employ effective methods for accomplishing their objectives.

I will highlight these figures in the book:

1. Montgomery C. Meigs (1816-1892)

2. Charles Dawes (1865-1951)

3. Frances Perkins (1880-1965)

4. Harold Ickes (1874-1952)

5. Leslie Groves (1896-1970)

6. David Lilienthal (1899-1981)

7. Robert Moses (1888-1981)

8. Alice Hamilton (1869-1970)

9. Ralph Bunche (1904-1971)

10. Allen Dulles (1893-1969)

11. Frances Oldham Kelsey (1914-2015)

12. Hyman G. Rickover (1900-1986)

13. Wilbur J. Cohen (1913-1987)

14. Stewart Udall (1920-2010)

15. Robert C. Weaver (1907-1997)

16. David O. “Doc” Cooke (1920-2002)

17. Dwight Ink (1922-2021)

18. Elliot Richardson (1920-1999)

19. Alan K. “Scotty” Campbell (1924-1998)

20. James A. Baker III (1930- )

21. Alice Rivlin (1931-2019)

22. Elmer Staats (1914-2011)

23. James Webb (1906-1992)

24. George Schultz (1920-2021)

25. Prudence Bushnell (1946- )

26. Constance Berry Newman (1935- )

27. Colin Powell (1937-2021)

28. Anthony Fauci (1940- )

As I begin researching and writing the book in 2022, I will use my blog to provide thumbnail sketches of each figure. My first posting will discuss Montgomery C. Meigs, quartermaster general of the Union army during the American Civil War. Few people aside from Civil War aficionados will recognize Meigs’s name, but he was a crucial figure in the Union war effort, as I will discuss next time.

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