Combining insights from traditional thought and practice and from contemporary political analysis, Madison's Managers presents a constitutional theory of public administration in the United States. Anthony Michael Bertelli and Laurence E. Lynn Jr. contend that managerial responsibility in American government depends on official respect for the separation of powers and a commitment to judgment, balance, rationality, and accountability in managerial practice.
The authors argue that public management—administration by unelected officials of public agencies and activities based on authority delegated to them by policymakers—derives from the principles of American constitutionalism, articulated most clearly by James Madison. Public management is, they argue, a constitutional institution necessary to successful governance under the separation of powers. To support their argument, Bertelli and Lynn combine two intellectual traditions often regarded as antagonistic: modern political economy, which regards public administration as controlled through bargaining among the separate powers and organized interests, and traditional public administration, which emphasizes the responsible implementation of policies established by legislatures and elected executives while respecting the procedural and substantive rights enforced by the courts. These literatures are mutually reinforcing, the authors argue, because both feature the role of constitutional principles in public management.
Madison's Managers challenges public management scholars and professionals to recognize that the legitimacy and future of public administration depend on its constitutional foundations and their specific implications for managerial practice.