The important distinguishing features of Public administration and Private administration may be described under the following sub-heads:
Political Direction: Public administration is political, while private administration is non-political, public administration takes place in a political context.
Absence of profit motive: The absence of profit motive from the Public administration is another feature, which distinguishes it from the private administration. The primary purpose of governmental organisation is to provide services to the people and promote social good.
Prestige: Public administrators who serve in the Government enjoy high status and prestige in comparison to their counterparts in private enterprises especially developing countries.
Public Gaze: All the actions of public administration are exposed to wide public gaze because the public closely watches it. This does not happen in private administration.
Service and Cost: Most governments spend more money than their income or revenues. That is the reason for finding generally a deficit budget that is, expenditure exceeding income. Conversely, private administration income often exceeds expenditure without which they cannot survive.
Legal framework: Public administration operates within a legal framework. It is rule oriented. The responsibilities of public administrators are fixed by a set of constitutional practices, laws and regulations. Government officials are obliged to act within their legal powers and not outside the law.
Consistency of treatment: A government official is required by law to maintain a high degree of consistency in his dealings with the public. He has to observe the principle of equality of treatment in serving the people. It is a legal obligation to not to discriminate against any person.
Public accountability: Public accountability is the hallmark of Public administration in a democracy. Public administration is responsible to the public, though not directly but indirectly through political executive, legislature, judiciary, etc.
Large-scale administration: Public administration is large-scale administration. It is said that almost anything under the sun is directly or indirectly under the domain of public administration. It is by all means larger than any big private concern in terms of size., complexity and diversity of activities.
Monopolistic and Essential Services: In the field of public administration, there is generally a monopoly of the government and it does not generally allow private parties to compete with it. For example, no person or bodies of persons are allowed to establish or perform functions related to public services like national security, foreign relations, law and order, mint and currency, as these are the exclusive fields of the government and thoroughly important for the community and polity to prosper.
Officials remain Anonymous: In public administration, even the most senior officials remain anonymous and their identity is not disclosed. This is so because whatever they do, they do in the name of the government and not in their own name.
Financial meticulousness: Public administration has to be very careful in financial matters because it is working as custodian of people’s money.
Lower level of Efficiency: Efficiency is said to be the cornerstone of any organisation. However, due to varied responsibilities, lack of effective control, less accountability, involvement of a large number of levels and job security of employees, efficiency has not been there in public organisations to the effect desired. When compared to private administration, one finds that the degree of efficiency in public organisations is at a lower level. With profit as the major motive coupled with excessive control and flexibility in personnel administration the level of efficiency in private organisations is much higher.
Similarities between Public administration and Private administration
The following similarities between the two types of administration may be noted:
- Both public and business administration rely on common skills, techniques and procedures.
- In modern times the principle of profit motive is not peculiar to private administration, because it is now accepted as a laudable objective for public sector enterprises also.
- In personnel management, the private organisations have been influenced greatly by the practices of public organisations.
- The private concerns are also subjected to many legal constraints. Government is exercising much control over business firms through regulatory legislation such as taxation, monetary and licensing policies, etc. Consequently, they are not as free as they once used to be.
- There is a similar type of hierarchy and management systems, both in public and private sectors. Both have same kind of organisation structure, superior – subordinate relationships, etc.
- Both Pubic and private administration carries on continuous efforts to improve their internal working and also for efficient delivery of services to people or customers.
- Public and private administration serves the people, whether being called clients or customers. Both have to maintain close contact with people to inform about their services and also to get feedback about services and product. In both the cases, public relations help them to inform and improve their services to the people.