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William D. Ruckelshaus and the EPA Essay

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Updated: Jan 12th, 2019


The case under discussion, William R. Ruckelshaus and Environment Protection Agency, is really important as it raises the problems of government and management, leadership and decision making in the organization.

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) under Anne McGill Burford’s ruling was convicted of perjury. The image and the work of the whole organization became so bad, that the employees were ashamed of the place they worked at. Sarcasm at the direction of the company director was too much. William Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of EPA, was invited to his previous positions to organize the work in the department and raise the prestige of the organization.

The problems stated in the case study are really relevant as much attention is paid to the organization of work of human resources, leadership and decision making. The incorrect organization in one of those issues lead to the problems the company faced (Lipshitz & Mann, 2005). Moreover, being the part of the government, the lack of public value could lead to the distrust to the whole government.


The main idea of the case is to represent the activities which may be taken in the image recovering direction. William Ruckelshaus was invited for the temporary position in the EPA. The organization was ruined even inside as the employees of the organization were ashamed of the fact that they worked in the EPA, without mentioning about the public attitude.

The previous administrator has created a bad image of the organization and a new one faced a lot of different issues, like: (1) there were too many vacancies which had to be fulfilled, (2) ruining of a block on legislative priorities about giving the companies more authority about pollution control installation, (3) encourage all the companies to clean up pollution they cause, (4) meet the international standards about the emissions which cause acid rain, (5) settle financial regulations with the government, (6) some political issues had to be solved.

Linkage of the case to Public Administration issues

The case under discussion is closely connected with the public administration and the issues it has to solve. It underlines the specific issues the government arises when makes legal regulations and enforces them. Before getting down to the discussion of the issues the case refers to within the public administration responsibilities, it is important to state what a public administration is.

Public administration may be considered as “all processes, organizations, and individuals associated with carrying out laws and other rules adopted or issued by legislature, executives and courts” (Milakovich & Gordon, 2008, p. 11).

The case refers to the court procedures where the organizations should be given more power devoted to making decisions about when the expensive pollution controls should be installed. Moreover, the international regulations should be settled which are usually considered by public administration. Public administration executes the law (Beckett & Koenig, 2005) and the main issues Ruckelshaus has to face in the study are to follow the law and execute its demands.

Furthermore, public administration presupposes work with people, their organization and following. Ruckelshaus has created specific rules which have to be followed by the employees. He may be considered as the administrator who has implemented the way and waits when people are going to subject to it. To make proper decisions, to direct necessary people to the appropriate direction and to make them follow those rules are the main executive responsibilities a new administrator had to bear.

Willliam D.Ruckelshaus and the EPA case study

Was there a difference between Ruckelshaus’s external environment and that of business executive?

The external environmental Ruckelshaus had to exist in was rather aggressive and negatively prejudiced. Ruckelshaus was surrounded by different organizations which expected from him specific actions. He had tried to make all possible to meet the expectations of the organizations and society. So, it may be completed that there was no difference between the external environment and the business executives provided by the administrator.

He did all possible to meet the requirements of the congress and to appease congressional critics, he provided consultations with citizens to increase their participation in the environmental affairs and to make them understand that the EPA has the only goal, to restore its image and make all possible to return human trust. One of the first actions Ruckelshaus did was the revision of the policies and legislative documents used by the EPA.

This action was directed at the consideration of the standards the organization followed and checking whether these standards were met. The reports devoted to this information helped structure the future work, organize the relationships with the department and other organizations which expected some actions from the EPA.

Thus, internally, Ruckelshaus provide the actions which were aimed at restoring the industry, organize a proper work of human resources and to establish relations with the departments in the government which are useful for the successful organization function. In the relation to the external environment, the same actions have been provided but on the other level. Everybody expected actions and changes from a new appointment, and Ruckelshaus justified the expectations of the whole society.

Ruckelshaus’s eight “rules of thumb”

Turning to the discussion of eight “rules of thumb” Ruckelshaus has used as the recovery strategy, the following logic basis may be considered. To improve the public opinion about the organization and the restore its positive image, Ruckelshaus pays much attention to what the employees say to people about the organization, even to the colleagues.

Much attention is paid to the government and the leadership in particular. People should have someone who they can respect and follow. To solve the legislation and political issues, Ruckelshaus uses the strategy of minimizing political miscalculations as these problems may be strong barriers on the way of achieving success.

Ruckelshaus has decided to search for people who are not connected to the industry, because he is afraid to facing those who dealt with Anne McGill Burford and continue unfair activities inside the organization. To return organizations’ good name and positive image, Ruckelshaus had to set new goals of the administration.

Having analyzed the changes conducted by Anne in this case, William understood that they were directed not at the improving the impact on the environment, but on making the responsibilities of EPA fewer. The change of the goals and their announcement to the society may help in improving the attitude of the citizens to the organization.

Ruckelshaus wants to show people that working on the environmental problems, EPA is unable to solve some of them in a number of reasons. To reduce the prejudiced attitude to the society to EPA, the educational courses are created. To increase the public image and to fill vacant slots, Ruckelshaus tries to address the public policies in the light of the social goals. To minimize the costs in the future, Ruckelshaus uses the research to identify the environmental threats and to assess the risks which may appear in the future.

Highly paid business executives and the reasons for a large pay cut

When Ruckelshaus was invited to his previous position, he was encouraged to do much work, solve numerous problems are make all possible to return the organization on the previous high position and form positive attitude in society. Even though much and complicated work had to be completed, Ruckelshaus agreed on large a pay cut.

Such decision may be explained by a number of reasons. First of all, Ruckelshaus was the first administrator of EPA. It seems that when he saw what was done with the organization which he had created, he could even agree to work for the lowest salary. This was an affair of honor for him to return the EPA to the previous condition. He just liked the job he had done before and he wanted to return to his previous responsibilities.

The second reason for agreeing on pay cut was the understanding that too much costs had to be put in the recovery strategies. Ruckelshaus understood that the organization budget may fail to cope with the high costs. Anyway ethical responsibility before the society is the main reasons why such costly word was done for less payment.

Such actions may be also considered as the first step on the way to the company recovery. To show that he works for free might show the society that he was going to be responsible in his actions and decisions, not to his personal benefit but for the benefit of the whole society, environmentally protected.

The third reasons might have been the understanding that money is nothing in the comparison with the pleasure he gets from doing the things he likes. It is really important to be satisfied from being a leader, from making the decisions which carry great responsibility but at the same time prove that the experience and knowledge he had got during his life were not spent in vain, and from managing people in such a way that they want to work in the company, that they want to perform the tasks they are assigned to.


In conclusion, it should be mentioned that Ruckelshaus is a professional. He took a position when the company was almost destroyed, when employees were ashamed that they worked there, when the standards were not met and the legislative and political problems overwhelmed. Having faced a number of issues and applied specific strategies, the organization had managed to return its image due to the specific “rules of thumb” which have been dictated by the situation and the problems which had to be solved.

I have learnt that leadership and proper decisions making are the main issues for successful business running. The correct human resource management and appropriate goals are also important to meet the society expectations. A wise administrator who can do his/her job in a proper way is a guarantee to the company successful development.

Reference List

Beckett, J. & Koenig, H. O. (2005). Public Administration and Law. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Lipshitz, R. & Mann, L. (2005). Leadership and Decision Making: William R. Ruckelshaus and the Environmental Protection Agency. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 11(4), 41-53.

Milakovich, M. E. & Gordon, G. J. (2008). Public Administration in America. Stamford: Cengage Learning.

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