HR’s Role in Public & Private Sector

HR’s Role in Public & Private Sector

Improving Human Resources with Strategic Alignment

The traditional human resource role in government has always been viewed in a negative light. The hiring of personnel has been fraught with issues concerning ineffective hiring practices, inefficient workers, and negative organizational cultures. The inefficiencies of public HR practices became an increasing concern throughout the latter part of the twentieth century because of the increasing demand for public services (Condrey, 2005).

In 1993 the Government Performance and Results Act’s (GPRA) was passed in order to address and bring accountability to public human resource management. The National Performance Review also known as the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, began initiatives, such as downsizing, reorganizing, streamlining, and delegating HR authorities. The delegating of those HR authorities was intended to improve HR’s ability to focus on organizational issues such as mission and bringing efficiency back into the public sector.

This change was focused in this manner such that HR could focus on aligning human resources management with agency mission accomplishment. However, the disconnection between management and HR soon became apparent as project planning and inefficiencies continued to plague the public sector. The disconnection was soon recognized as a separation of ideology that strikes at the purpose of HR in the public sector. Management views of HR were as administrative and clerical in nature, whereas HR considered itself an integral part of supporting basic company functions. This view would have to change and in order to accomplish this HR would have to strategically partner with management in order to achieve the results demanded by GPRA (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 1999).

Not unlike the public sector the private sector had a growing need to strategically partner with Human Resource management. However, in many ways the private sector lags also in the collaborative efforts between management and HR.

A Pricewaterhouse-Coopers poll indicates that although 75 percent of the responding 70 companies reported that HR’s effectiveness is measured by its contribution to business results, only 27 percent include HR from the beginning of the business planning cycle. Further, 43 percent rated HR’s planning and policy effectiveness as only average while a mere 6 percent rated it as excellent (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 1999).

Simply speaking human resource management has suffered the same disconnect from project planning and management collaboration as the public sector.

Unlike the public sector the private sector has been able to flourish in many ways without the benefit of HR collaboration since private companies have the ability to judge performance through profits. This economic difference gives private sector an advantage in that it can pinpoint problems of inefficiency by virtue of financial losses. Although this seems to be an advantage, this word should be used in the loosest definition. Is it really an advantage to hire and then look for financial losses? Obviously the private sector could enjoy increases through collaboration in HR and management.

The interesting and odd part of the comparison of public and private HR is that the public sector has increasingly benchmarked its practices to the private sector. The public sector might actually be able to surpass the private sector in efficiency if the ‘best practices’ of certain firms are incorporated into the public sector collaboration. The public sector has the benefit of decades of private organization’s success, failures, and research to help fine tune the HR and management collaboration.

But one conflicting element to benchmarking the private sector is that the public sector is typically nonprofit and as such does not have the ability to practice many HR management ideas that the private sector enjoys. For instance, the inefficiency of public agencies cannot be measured in terms of profit loss. The differing economics highlights the fundamental differences between these sectors. By virtue of these differences the public sector will have to continue to seek some practices that are original in nature and that are engineered from within the organization.


Condrey, S.E. (2005). Radical civil service reform: ideology, politics, and policy. University of Phoenix: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (1999, September). Strategic human resources management: aligning with the mission. Retrieved from

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Triola Vincent. Thu, May 27, 2021. HR’s Role in Public & Private Sector Retrieved from

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