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Format:
Print
Author:
Mills, Russell W.
Dept./Program:
MPA Program
Year:
2007
Degree:
MPA
Abstract:
Airports serve as vital publicly owned infrastructure in the American transportation system. As publicly built and maintained infrastructure, airports were originally conceived as public enterprises that worked with cities, states, and even the federal government to provide a place for private airlines to do business, i.e. transport people. Recently in the United States, there has been increasing interest from the private sector in managing, operating, and even owning previously public airports (Fortune, 2007). The increase in private sector involvement in airports along with the natural monopolistic environment in which airports operate, raise several concerns for public administrators in terms of public accountability, affordability of flights, and availability of flights.
In the field of public administration much has been written on the increased role of the private sector in delivering public services. "New governance" (Salamon 2002), collaborative public management (Agranoff & McGuire 2003), network governance (Goldsmith & Eggers 2004), and contracting out (Cooper 2002) are all responses and contributions to the New Public Management paradigm that encourages increased private sector practices in the delivery of public services. In this thesis, particular emphasis will be placed on Salamon's "new governance" framework, which uses the tool of public action as the unit of analysis.
This thesis will examine the challenges that public-private partnerships airports pose in terms of holding various actors accountable to the public. In addition, this thesis will evaluate and analyze the system and service tools utilized by airports in the United States in terms of the amount of public oversight that is allotted by each tool. Finally, this thesis will develop an accountability framework that can be used by public administrators to hold public and private sector partners accountable in public-private partnerships.
The main questions that this thesis explores is: In complex, networked systems like airports, how does the selection of system tools affect public accountability? The main hypotheses that this thesis will pose is that as the level of private sector involvement at each airport increases, the access to financial statements, airport officials, and contractual agreements decreases, therefore decreasing public accountability. The case study format utilized in this study will provide a preliminary examination of this hypothesis, as three different U.S. airports utilizing three different system tools will be compared.