1 PROFESSIONALISM IN GOVERNANCE: REGULATING RADIO FREQUENCY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Joshua M. Steinfeld School of Public Administration Florida Atlantic University 777 Glades Rd. Boca Raton, FL For presentation at Public Administration Theory Network Conference May 28-31, 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia ABSTRACT Bureaucrats decision-making in the current regulation of radio frequency information technology (RADFIT) presumes the modern view of the public administration professional. RADFIT regulatory policies have been instituted based on efficiency and effectiveness, and the extent to which public administrators calculate risks and rewards, including health concerns, for RADFIT s usage is based on modern tenets of measurement and scientific management. This manuscript discusses the various roles and responsibilities for public administration professionals and examines one particular aspect of RADFIT, namely the guidelines governing advanced imaging technology (AIT) at airport security checkpoints, in illustrating how the modern view of professionalism is dominating public administrators decision-making when regulating RADFIT. BACKGROUND
2 2 Radio frequency information technology (RADFIT) refers to the use of radio frequency electromagnetic wave (RFEMW) devices to transmit information such as through cell towers for communication, telemeters for signal detection and intervention, and advanced imaging technology (AIT) scanners for security screening. Today, cell phones have become commonplace and discussion is sparse regarding the changes in the urban landscape evident by cell towers and antennae erected in residential communities, schools, parks, buildings, and other private or government property. In rural communities, these towering structures may be typically erected on the town s main street, seen popping up in the horizon, or atop hillsides. Telemeters, and other sensory devices that measure and reconfigure alignments or trigger interventions for moving parts on bridge structures, airplanes, satellites, military equipment, oceanographic, and geothermal engineering projects are rarely mentioned by the public at large; these activities are instead familiarized with popular mechanics or breakthrough technologies on a discovery program or magazine. With regard to AIT body scanners, which are being utilized in some cases for airport travel, wide-acceptance of this technology is being demonstrated by the thousands of passengers that pass through these machines in hundreds of airports daily. Due to the fact that there are few public outcries demanding more information and scrutiny over use of electromagnetic-based technology, it can be inferred that both public administrators and community residents are displaying a range of emotions by failing to recognize the need for discourse, whether it is
3 3 through showing signs of being timid, blind trust for authority and government, or a lack of holistic conception for the human body and environment. The timid behavior takes place when public administrators are unsure about incorporating new technology to achieve cost-effectiveness or new capabilities but fail to speak up, or are concerned that the technology may have human and environmental impacts but prefer not to pursue uncovering what could be damaging evidence. Blind faith in authority is shown when public administrators and the general public accepts installation and usage of electromagnetic devices and believes that these devices must therefore be safe by means of existence and thus must be safe, on the basis of having passed through a perceived public policy and regulatory process. A lack of conception for body and environment is displayed as we continue to immerse ourselves in electromagnetic fields or assimilate our mind and body with newfound gadgets that use powerful, invisible technology. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who regulates the installation and use of much of the RADFIT devices prevalent in the community, especially cell towers, acknowledges that there are acute biological effects from the electromagnetic waves that are emitted from these devices (FCC, 2015). It has been known for many years that exposure to very high levels of RF radiation can be harmful due to the ability of RF energy to heat biological tissue rapidly A number of reports have appeared in the scientific literature describing the observation of a range of biological effects resulting from exposure to low-levels of RF energy (FCC,
4 4 2015). Yet, the FCC seems to be contradicting in subsequently adding: However, in most cases, further experimental research has been unable to reproduce these effects. Furthermore, since much of the research is not done on whole bodies (in vivo), there has been no determination that such effects constitute a human health hazard Some studies have also examined the possibility of a link between RF exposure and cancer. Results to date have been inconclusive the results have not been independently replicated and such research is continuing (FCC, 2015). On one hand, the FCC is stating that it has been well established that RF radiation has biological effects on the living organism. On the other hand, the FCC is offering guidance that due to the parameters of research and an evolving body of knowledge, it cannot be concluded with certainty whether or not RF absorption poses health risks. If there is an understanding that RF waves have a physiological and/or biological reaction on humans, and the research environment appears to be conflicted or yet to mature, then why are these technologies being steadfastly adopted and interwoven into society s communication and innovation infrastructure? INTRODUCTION Hood et al. (2001) presents four regulatory narratives such as interest group, entrepreneurialism, client, and majoritarian in the form of political context elements that can be applied to situate and explain the reasoning behind decisionmaking of public administrators and residents in the RADFIT sphere (Steinfeld, 2015). Accordingly, as each narrative plays out relative to its situational political
5 5 context, the resultant policy outcome proves to be unfavorable for public policy participants such as RFEMW subjects, equipment installers, operators, repair workers, and generally anyone who has experienced absorption. If politically driven narratives such as political context elements that dictate the RADFIT regulatory policy framework leads to unfavorable outcomes for the public, then what outcome could be expected if regulatory bodies were controlled by politically-neutral public administrators? Professionalism, what it constitutes in theory and practice, has gained much attention by resident philosophers in public administration for decades and the term is often associated with the neutral, technical bureaucrat (See for example, Gargan s (1998) The Public Administration Community and the Search for Professionalism in the Handbook of Public Administration). Waldo (1948/2006) and Fesler (1980) effectively challenge the politics-administration dichotomy, or idea that public administration should be void of politics, from theoretical standpoints by citing numerous examples where the two are intertwined, such as in the public policy or congressional arenas that are governed by processes and procedures. Furthermore, a politically neutral objective of profitability, as opposed to environmentalism, for example, can itself be attached to a political affiliation, such as a development or expansion narrative. Market fundamentalism through capitalist approaches including tenets of urbanization (Bell, 1962), managerialism (Pollitt, 1990), and economic individualism (Bozeman, 2007), as is often the case in other policy footholds, will
6 6 likely not lead to improved RADFIT regulatory guidelines and standards for the public and its safety. Thelen (2014) presents a symbiotic framework (not zerosum) in deconstructing neoliberalism that illustrates the relationship between political participants whereby public policy is used to create situations that are gainful to policy actors and constituencies. However, trying to point out or establish the networks or affiliates of policy advocates or polyarchal actors (see Dahl, 1971), is often viewed to be conspicuous, as conspiracy, or at a minimum confrontational and difficult to prove. While Steinfeld (2013) provides an initial look at the specific RADFIT decision-makers, the basic premise of policy advocates for expansive use of RFEMW is that professionalism rooted in modern tenets of administration that involve neutral measures or objectives such as costeffectiveness, innovation, and connectivity, is what guides the regulatory arena for RADFIT. The purpose of this manuscript is to examine the bureaucratic reasoning and public stance on governance and widespread use of RFEMW technology by looking at public administration professionalism to better understand bureaucratic decision-making. The public administration professional is said to be embodied with a plethora of knowledge and display a host of criteria. The modernist public administrator makes decisions based on improving organizational benefit-cost relationships, increasing capacity/capability, and advancement in speed, process, or function. Whereas the postmodern public administrator may look to make decisions without solely weighing productive considerations, for example taking
7 7 into account observations that deal with the senses, such as in how the environment looks or feels, or what immeasurable dangers or risks may be inherent. This manuscript argues that the modern public administrator still dominates decision-making in parts of the public policy arena, at least in the RF technology space, where RADFIT has been rigorously adopted as part of everyday living and being. Areas for future discussion will be indicated that provide for expanded viewpoints and ways of thinking about governing and assimilating with a newfound technology that is quickly becoming part of the institutional and environmental framework. THE PROFESSIONAL BUREAUCRAT IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION The idea that public administration professionalism indicates neutrality implies a separation between politics and administration. Similar to modernists such as Wilson (1887) and Goodnow (1900), Childs (1914) described the role of civil services as being vested in professional management, a job that can be done by a single head without the need for political counsel. Even Taylor s (1919) conceptualization of scientific management applied to administration without stress on the public consideration of the term, by faith in principles and divorce of administration and values. White (1926) and Willoughby (1927) produced textbooks in public administration that stressed the most efficient use of resources and aspects of managerialism, as opposed to legal, political, or social underpinnings of administrative activities.
8 8 Around the same time, Follett s Creative Experience (1924) shed light on the importance of non-factors of production and efficiency in public policy and administration by emphasizing citizen governance through participation and developed expertise. Additionally, Mayo s Hawthorne studies from and Barnard s The Functions of the Executive (1938) altered the way managerialism or efficiency was approached within administration. Scientific management was being challenged at its surface, to the extent that behavioral mechanisms needed to be developed in order to improve efficiency, in addition to the idea that organizations exist for more reasons than productive capacity. Mayo s (1938) research found that a group life was established among the workers, that job performance was not necessarily linked to worker aptitude, and that productivity was affected by informal organizational factors (Franke & Kaul, 1978). Subsequently, Roosevelt s New Deal coincided with the new consideration of social factors. In response to the Great Depression that resulted from the Great Crash of 1929 (see Galbraith, 1954 for causes), Roosevelt instituted the New Deal, which involved the establishment of several social welfare functions such as Social Security, Federal Housing Administration, and the National Labor Relations Board (Roosevelt Institute, 2014). The notion that Weberian or Taylorean modes of production could be limited to scientific management and hierarchy was being replaced with more holistic approaches, which would actually turn out to benefit the economy as a whole.
9 9 With Roosevelt s swift action to alleviate the economic decline and use of administrative resources to institute a host of social programs, public administration began to be perceived as being politically tied to the executive branch, however, only from a policy standpoint. Operationally, the executive branch controlled the civil service. Major duties of the chief executive were said to be: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting (PODSCORB) (Gulick, 1937a; Urwick, 1937). Through the executive leadership s proper division and organization of work, the public administration was to achieve efficiency by using the least amount of manpower and materials (Gulick, 1937b). Similarly, Roosevelt s Committee on Administrative Management (the Brownlow Committee) held the position that public agencies are simply subordinates of the executive branch (Caiden, 1971; Millett, 1972). Waldo (1948/2006) and Fesler (1980) effectively challenged the politicsadministration dichotomy from theoretical standpoints by citing numerous examples where the two are intertwined, such as in the public policy or congressional arenas that are governed by processes and procedures. Appleby (1945) and Dahl (1947) also posit the linkages between politics and administration as being direct. The advent of new public administration in the 1960 s and 70 s further blurred the line between politics and administration, especially on the heels of major issues such as civil rights and the war in Vietnam. With new approaches and arrangements, a newly devoted public administration could serve as the instrument for guiding social change (White, 1971), by instituting new
10 10 epistemologies and philosophies (Guerreiro-Ramos, 1980). There was a new institution of structured nonhierarchy (Thayer, 1979) and consociational government (Lijphart, 1977). Yet, the orthodox values of public administration, classically viewed as being reveled in scientific management and business administration (Wilson, 1887; Goodnow, 1900; Taylor, 1919; Weber, 1919; White, 1926; Willoughby, 1927), such as economy, efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness, and responsibility, were still viewed as necessary although not allencompassing criteria for professionalism in public administration (Frederickson, 1980). Further, Svara (1985) highlights that the separation between politics and administration was not a dichotomy but rather a continuum: mission-policyadministration-management. An analysis of the politics-administration dichotomy presumes the indication that professionalism in public administration is equated with political neutrality in the whole-hearted pursuit of scientific management and business administration. In this sense, there is an overarching tendency of public administrators to optimize administrative productivity through enhancement, and agreement by the public at-large to support these notions. However, since public administration deals with public concerns, democratic values such as equity, citizen governance, and open-dialogue, these considerations must be factored in along with traditional goals of efficiency and effectiveness. It is the combination of values that the development of postmodern public administration and inquiry is founded upon (see Fox and Miller, 2014; Miller, 2002). The following section
11 11 takes on a postmodern view by identifying and critiquing observable situations where public administrators advocate public policies based on modern thinking and analysis. In this regard, the use of RADFIT and related RF technologies are incorporated whereas a postmodern mindset, or one in which modern tenets of administration do not reign supreme, may suggest that some applications of RFEMW should be more stringently regulated or in certain cases barred from being used altogether. THE MODERN PROFESSIONAL REGULATES RADFIT There are instances where the modern view of professionalism can be seen being practiced by public administrators in the regulation of RADFIT. Modern tenets of professionalism such as bureaucrat s decision-making according to evaluative measures of efficiency and effectiveness are dictating a regulatory environment that steadfastly incorporates RADFIT into daily use and surrounding infrastructure. The problem is that the RFEMW technology utilized by RADFIT is potentially harmful to humans. RFEMW exposure has been shown to have acute negative effects on human reproduction (Agarwal et al., 2009; Meo et al., 2010; Salama 2010), the biological clock (Manzella, 2015), and impairment of proteins and cells (Zhang et al., 2014; Chen et al., 2014). Despite the findings of various studies that RFEMW exposure is harmful, government agencies continue to adopt RADFIT technology in communities whether it be through use of millimeter wave (MMW) AIT scanners in airports or its considerable allowance of wireless service providers to install RF towers (cell
12 12 towers) in neighborhoods and parks, at schools and city centers, and on buildings. It is the modern view of professionalism that is dictating bureaucratic decisionmaking resulting in full-fledged usage of RADFIT. In terms of the actual daily practices of administrative actors displaying modern professionalism for RADFIT regulation in the public view, just consider what can be witnessed while passing through a security checkpoint at a U.S. airport where body scanners that utilize electromagnetism are used to screen passengers. The following examples combine to demonstrate how modern professionalism is dominating bureaucratic decisionmaking in establishing rules and guidelines in regulating the use of electromagnetism in governance. The point to be illustrated deals with public administrators acute processing and measurement of risk parameters, a sort of splicing-and-dicing in terms of who is required to use the electromagnetic body scanners, and who instead may use the metal detectors that have traditionally been in use and are regarded as safer. Based on observable conditions from a typical experience while passing through a U.S. airport security checkpoint, the following circumstances are clear and evident. To start, pilots, flight attendants, and other airport personnel that pass through security checkpoints on a regular basis as part of their job are not required to pass through the L3 ProVision ATD millimeter wave advanced imaging technology scanner. Instead, these airport personnel pass through metal detectors due to unions concern over frequent passage through this type of AIT (see Alfonsi and Hopper, 2010; Hunter, 2010). Additionally, children (and their
13 13 accompanying parents) are allowed to pass through the metal detector instead of the AIT body scanner because developing children are thought to be more susceptible to the electromagnetic radiation. Passengers travelling with pets, or containing external medical devices are also directed to the metal detectors rather than the MMW AIT scanners. Differently, subjects such as typical travellers, with the presumption that most passengers only occasionally fly and thus infrequently are subject to RFEMW through search, are required to use the MMW AIT scanners. The modern professional comes into play by the splitting-of-hairs in government s determination of what frequency or level of exposure is safe for passengers. Here, the professional bureaucrat analyzes the various studies and risk factors, considers the population travelling through airports, listens to complaints from various bodies, and then makes a calculated judgment as to who is required to pass through AIT scanners, and who may use the metal detectors, which are considered safer. Convenience factors also come into play when it comes to allowing passengers with pets to use the metal detector and parents of children who are allowed to forgo the MMW AIT scanners for metal detectors. All these calculated factors, such as frequency of exposure, age of subject, and even convenience come into play when regulating MMW AIT usage. These calculated decisions presume the fact that the decision to utilize RFEMW was made to begin with, probably in order to reduce the cost of labor at security checkpoints, where much more personnel would be required to conduct manual searches, or pat downs. Currently, passengers who wish to avoid the
14 14 AIT scanner may opt out and receive a manual pat down instead. The full body pat down could be used for all passengers, but this would require hiring many more workers. Additionally, the RFEMW scanners may be more effective in detecting contraband than a pat down or the metal detectors. Other issues with pat downs may involve subject complaints such as hard frisks, where slight applications of pressure or fast movements across sensitive areas create subject discomfort. It is evident that modern professional thinking is dominating the decisionmaking in RADFIT. Health and convenience factors are being measured, calculated, and decided upon in setting specific guidelines that vary based on the specifics of the traveller. The idea that professionals in government are weighing and deciding the extent to which health risks may be posed to various groups of travellers is concerning. What if the professionals are wrong? It is not as if government is not fully aware of the health issues surrounding RFEMW as it relates to use in body scanning. In 2008, the Rapiscan company s Secure 1000 x- ray machines were procured to replace Explosive Trace Detection portals, commonly referred to as puffer machines, until opposition in the United Kingdom surfaced citing health concerns; the U.S. soon eliminated the Secure 1000 x-ray machine in favor of the L3 Provision ATD MMW AIT scanners that have been in place since 2008 (Fisher, 2013). Currently, professionals in government deem the amount of radiation emitted from MMW scanners to be below dangerous levels. Taking into consideration the short duration of exposure,
15 15 and the very low levels of emissions from the MMW AIT-1, the electromagnetic energy levels were determined to be 1000 times less than the limits in the IEEE C 95.1 standards and guidelines from International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2012, 12-13). Yet, in April 2010, faculty from the University of California, San Francisco expressed concerns to President Obama s assistant for science and technology John P. Holdren in a letter stating older travelers and those with compromised immune systems may be at particular risk; that some females may be at higher risk of developing breast cancer; that the potential health effects on children, adolescents, pregnant women, and fetuses have not been fully assessed; that the proximity of the testicles to the skin raises concerns over possible sperm mutation; and that the effects on the cornea and the thymus gland have not been determined (Elias, 2012, 7). Even if government is taking certain precautions such as allowing children or airport personnel to pass through the metal detectors instead of the AIT scanners, there is the thought that being near the AIT scanners may constitute RFEMW absorption. There is nothing to suggest that the RFEMW is contained to the subject standing inside the AIT scanner, as the scanners are not enclosed objects. Furthermore, a traveller may need to wait in line for several minutes while being near RFEMW-powered equipment, not to mention the personnel that work at security checkpoints. CONCLUSION
16 16 Modernism and its version of professionalism are described as somewhat dehumanistic in regulating RADFIT by the way that scientific management is applied to determine public health risks and subsequent implementation of new technology. Whereas a postmodern, or alternative argument may support the opposition and banning of AIT devices altogether, by the shear fact that some levels of RFEMW have been proven to be harmful. Opponents of RADFIT or its over-usage can argue that it should not be government s task to determine to what extent the public is willing to bear health risks, especially when there are alternatives to implementing the technology, albeit alternatives that may be more costly. To make matters worse, or more complicated at least, is the fact that the technology being regulated is invisible, and requires specialized devices to determine the power of the RFEMW signal strength to begin with. Reliance on apparatuses to measure the technology presents a host of relative and comparative issues in terms of better understanding and honing the scientific field of study (Kuhn, 1962/2012). Even though public administrationists have barely written about issues of RADFIT, especially when compared to recognized areas of study such as e- governance, the scholarly community is beginning to take a concerted interest in studying the effects of RFEMW technologies in terms of examining the environmental impacts. For example, the Bioelectromagnetics Society holds an annual conference that attracts hundreds of acclaimed scientists and academics
17 17 that regularly experiment with electromagnetism in the laboratory. The Society is also affiliated with a scholarly journal and the public policy track is an area of research that is solicited in the conference s call for papers (BioEM, 2015). In the meantime, it is extremely difficult to speak or write about challenges or questions that insinuate a level of danger from RADFIT and the RFEMW technology. The majority of people to converse with have been exposed to RADFIT when travelling or may experience heightened levels of absorption from living or working in view of RF towers, or by regular use of cell phones. The hint that RADFIT may be dangerous, or could have already caused damage to someone, goes against the following slogan that seems to articulate the RADFIT narrative: out of sight, out of mind. This manuscript is not arguing that the professional public administrator is completely dominated by the modern view in its decision-making, only in the adoption and implementation of RADFIT. If RADFIT, in the form of AIT scanners for example, was not perceived as being more efficient and effective that manual pat downs or metal detectors, then there is no advantage and therefore no reason for bureaucracy to adopt its usage. Rather than assuming various traditions for professional administration such as modern, or postmodern, or declaring particular roles for government such as a responsibility to steer not row (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992), or serve not steer (Denhardt and Denhardt, 2011), the administrator may strive to be characterized as thoughtful, in which the professional administrator considers the value and importance of each one s life
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