PS/CJ 320 - Thursday (R) 4-6:45 pm - H

Instructor: Julius (Jay) Wachtel

Course description and learning goals

This course helps students understand government decision making from a cross-disciplinary perspective.  Precepts and methods from the discipline of public administration are examined, with an emphasis on policy formulation and implementation. Students gain an understanding of the constraints and limits of official action and develop an ability to resolve managerial and policy issues by applying theories and concepts from social science and administrative literature.  Key concepts of planning, budgeting, personnel management and ethics are also addressed.

Required books and readings

Denhardt, Robert B.  Public Administration: An Action Orientation.  4th. ed.

California Performance Review, Vol. 1, Prescription for Change (entire volume, on the Internet).

Los Angeles Times, Orange County edition (seven days, during term).  Be sure to read the paper - especially articles regarding government operations - before coming to class.


Two non-cumulative midterm exams and a non-cumulative final.  Exams are comprised of short-answer questions that test comprehension of themes discussed in class, readings and guest presentations.

Makeup exams may be given for a documented emergency.  If you cannot take an exam on the scheduled date, e-mail (telephone if you cannot e-mail) and leave a message. A makeup exam will be left in your name in the "makeup exam" basket in the Political Science division office, UH-511, tel. (714) 278-3521. Make ups must be taken in the Political Science division office, during normal office hours, by the end of the week following the week in which the regular exam was administered.

Each exam is a mandatory component of the course.  To earn a grade higher than "F" every exam must be taken.

News Clippings

Please click on the link for instructions.

Each student can earn up to 10 points for submitting news clippings from the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Edition, relating to any issue in public management covered in this course (must involve a government agency).  Each clipping must be accompanied by a neatly typed one-page summary of the article.  Maximum of ONE clipping with summary per regular class session (none accepted the date of the final -- see schedule.)  Only original clippings can be turned in (no photocopies accepted.)

Clippings will be turned in at the beginning of each class session.  Please be ready to discuss your clippings in class.

Term Paper

Please click on the link for instructions.

A formal 6-8 term paper that discusses selected section(s) of the California Performance Review is a required component of the course.  A paper must be turned in to earn a term grade other than "F". Topics must be approved by September 9 (see schedule) and papers must be turned in by November 18 (see schedule).  Late approval or late turn in of the paper will be assessed 5 points each.

Oral Presentation

Please click on the link for instructions.

Students will share their paper with the class in an oral presentation of about 8 minutes in length. This presentation is a required component of the course and must be done to earn a grade higher than "F".  Students will be assigned a presentation date when their topic is approved.


100 points can be earned - 20 for each exam, 10 for news clippings with summaries, 20 for the paper and 10 for the oral presentation of the term paper (5 for speaking, 5 for the note cards).  At the end of the term, grades will be assigned using the conventional scale (A=90, B=80, C=70, D=60, F=59 or lower), adjusted as necessary to reflect class performance.

Five points will be subtracted for missing the term paper topic selection date, the paper due date, not having note cards or not being ready to give the oral presentation.  Points lost cannot be "made up". No extra credit assignments will be given.

Any instance of academic dishonesty, such as plagiarism or cheating, will result in a grade of zero or "F" for that activity and a term grade of "F".

Please note:  It is the instructor´s policy to grade from student ID numbers only and not to change grades except for a computational error. Students who wish a good grade or plan to attend law school or graduate school are encouraged to work as hard as possible.  Please do not ask for special consideration.

Pagers and Cell Phones

Turn off or place pagers and cell phones on silent mode before entering class.  If you must leave to respond to a message please do not interrupt us again by reentering the room while class is in session.  If for any reason you cannot comply with these requirements please do not enroll in this section.

Weekly schedule

Note:  Start reading Calif. Performance Review, Vol. 1, Prescription for Change

1 - 8/26 - Core concepts and issues - Chp. 1

2 - 9/2 - Political context - Chp. 2 - FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO TURN IN A CLIPPING

3 - 9/9 - Inter organizational context - Chp. 3 - DEADLINE FOR TOPIC SELECTION.

4.  9/16 - California Performance Review - Prescription for Change

5 - 9/23 - Ethics - Chp. 4.

6 - 9/30 - EXAM 1 (Chapters 1 - 4, Calif. Perf. Review Vol. 1)

7 - 10/7 - Budgeting and financing - Chp. 5 - BEGIN ORAL PRESENTATIONS

8 - 10/14 - Budgeting and financing - Chp. 5 (cont'd)

9 - 10/21 - Human Resources - Chp. 6

10 - 10/28 - Organizational dynamics - Chp. 8

11 - 11/4 - Reinventing government - Chp. 9

12 - 11/11 - EXAM 2 (Chapters 5, 6, 8, 9)

13 - 11/18 - Personal skills - Chp. 10 - LAST DAY TO TURN IN TERM PAPERS

14 - 11/25 - NO CLASS - TERM BREAK

15 - 12/2 - Interpersonal skills and group dynamics - Chp. 11

16 - 12/9 - Future directions - Chp. 12 - LAST OPPORTUNITY TO TURN IN A CLIPPING

17 - 12/16 - 5:00 - 6:50 pm - FINAL EXAM (Chapters 10 - 12)