Raymond J. Donovan, the secretary of labor was confirmed as secretary of labor and the first
The case of interview with Al Zuck is that the new confirmed secretary of labor requested the assistant of his to award a sole-source contract for his former campaign colleague. Eventually after compromising with the experienced assistant who throughout th whole process holds a very strong opposing voice. Besides the non-ethical facet and the fact that practice of signing the contract will violate the intent of the law, the singularity in the case is that the order itself is not necessarily illegal.
As a fundamental activity of public administration, the process of decision-making and the system implemented in decision making process are vital in evaluating the effectiveness, public participation extent, transparency and achievements of an agency or organization. For a long time people assume human beings are very rational and calculation-oriented individuals who make decisions based on comprehensive information, clear problem identification, objective assumptions as well as practical outcome analysis, But Simon and Lindblom started questioning it through their arguments on bounded rationality and incrementalism. They suggested that empirical boundaries and limitations will largely affect the decision maker in choosing between policy alternatives. Many factors to a great extent reduce the unlikelihood of perfect assumptions which assumes the existence of the flowing: humans self interests behavior, exhaustive decision options, symmetric and ample information and enough cognitive ability and limitless time to make decisions.
The process of aquaring information itself might be chanllenging enough because apart from the tangible cost of making an decision, the intangible cost in the public agency decision making process incurred in the form of political favor—coercion, hostility cost, policy cost, inability command, reputational cost(popularity) pure for economical decision. And it is very hard to measure the cost incurred in this way so some decision makers easily just ignores the cost which might lead to future reputation or policy crisis. Even when the decision maker are able to collect information, they potentially can be deliberately distorted by other sources. In the case of Al Zuck, the information that another branch is on board with the contract was distorted and if Al made the decision to sign the contract based on this information then it would be a political embarrassing moment for him. Donovan did not evaluate the potential percusions that might be created from this decision, not be able to resalize how important is perception is in the public eye almost would have his career if he insisted on signing the contract.
This brought the relationship between regality and ethics in our attention. In this case, as it was mentioned in the case multiple times that signing the contract would not necessarily be illegal and that is the major argument decision makers made to try to convince others or event themselves in many cases. Donovan did not understand that perception of the public is often equal to if not more important than issues of legality. Passing the smell test, which means getting through public opinion of a public policy. Public trust and trust among agency are hard to regain after bad policy because wide coverage of policy application will not only ruin the policy itself but also the reputation of the whole organization. The decision George Bush made to start war with Iraq ruined his whole administration.
Acting rationally presupposes that one has not only complete knowledge but also an anticipation of the consequences a taken choice will have. Knowledge of consequences, however, is subject to temporariness. Further, a full rational decision requires taking into account all possible and available options. Coming from a small private sector, Donovan lacks the experience and knowledge of public service.