Since ancient times and particularly since the time of the Roman Empire, it was realized by rulersthat it was very hard to govern a country successfully without civil servants, especially vast countries.
The Roman Empire was vast and its rulers understood that the Empire could not be held together orgoverned without professional administration.
Since those times public service functions and theirnumber have grown significantly in every country; in Canada Federal Public Service Employmentreached 367,000 in 2004.
However, one thing which has not changed much since ancient times andwhich is constantly an issue in the Canadian Public Service is administrative accountability, or to bemore precise - in most cases the lack of it, resulting in corruption, patronage, etc. To demonstrate the ageof this issue let us take an example from the Roman Empire. Here is what a history of administration inthe Roman Empire has to say:The administration, or rather the classes from which it was recruited,lacked an adequate code of public conduct. It is true that the government took an idealistic view of its duty to provide for the needs of the community, toensure the safety and well-being of the governed, to provide justice for thosewho appeared in its courts. But members of the administration treated theirappointments as a means to social and economic gain for themselves, andabove all their friends and dependents.
The consequence of those attitudes and lack of accountability was, of course, frustration and lack of trust and confidence from ordinary citizens. “If the history of the Late Empire shows an increasingalienation of the population from the government, the conduct of an administration that appeared to existmainly for the sake of its self-preservation is likely to have been a principal cause.”
So, after all possible checks and preventive measures fail, or if there are insufficient numbers of them, a country would be more likely to find corruption in its public service. Here is what one author hasto say about corruption in public service:
Wacher, John S., ed. The Roman World. (New York: Routledge, 2002, vol. 1), 455-456
Canada, Statistics Canada. Public Sector Employment. (2005); and Wacher, 459