The concept of managerial responsibility is a shining thread in the literature of public administration, but its definition within our constitutional scheme remains elusive. How will we know responsible public management when we see it? We propose one answer: Public administration should be conducted according to what we term a “precept of managerial responsibility,” which involves four interrelated elements derived from the classical literature of public administration: judgment, accountability, balance, and rationality. We apply this precept to one of the most vexing problems of public administration theory and practice, institutional reform litigation. This application illustrates how the precept solves a major theoretical problem of American public administration by defining a role for administrative officers that fully comports with the Madisonian scheme of separated institutions—legislative, executive, and judicial—sharing power.