Toward a Constitutional School for American Public Administration


Stephanie P. Newbold is an assistant professor of public administration at American University. Her research interests include the intellectual history of American public administration, constitutional theory, ethics, and the legal environment of public management.


A central tenet of The Federalist is that good government depends on good administration. Two hundred and twenty-three years have passed since Publius began writing this extraordinary text. As American democratic institutions have grown larger and more complex than what the founders ever imagined, many of the ideas expressed in The Federalist remain as relevant today as when James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay first advanced them in 1787. The author argues that public administration should move toward a constitutional school that would connect the U.S. Constitution with all aspects of American public administration theory and practice. While the author readily acknowledges this new school’s apparent defects, its most important contribution recognizes that the American Constitution matters, and indeed should serve as a lodestar for our entire field.