What is a Public Administrator?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2020
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A public administrator is a government employee who works to improve government services offered to members of the public. This word can be used generally to refer to government employees with training in the field of public administration who offer an array of public services and also to a specific type of worker who processes estates when no one else is available to do so. Both jobs typically require a degree in public administration from a college or university, along with work experience in the field.

The nature of the work requires knowledge of the legal system, as public administrators must be able to make legal filings and draft policy that complies with the law. The ability to work with the public is important, as are organizing skills that will allow the public administrator to handle multiple matters at the same time. These government employees also need cooperative working skills, as they may need to call upon other government workers along with contractors such as accountants and real estate agents, in the process of wrapping up an estate or working on the implementation of new policy for a community.


Generally speaking, public administrators analyze policy and assist with the establishment of new policy on behalf of the government. They consider issues relevant to their communities, ranging from safety concerns to environmental health, and work on developing effective and comprehensive policy to address these issues. This can include reviewing and changing existing policy, as well as drafting entirely new material. These government employees interact directly with members of the public, as well as other government workers, in the course of their work.

In the sense of someone who handles estates, a public administrator steps in when someone dies and the estate is at risk of being neglected because no executor has been named or no heirs can be identified. Sometimes, people specifically name the public administrator in their wills as the executor. Like other executors, the public administrator catalogs the estate, secures it, pays off any bills the deceased incurred, and attempts to locate heirs for the purpose of distributing the estate.

When there is a conflict of interest with an estate or mismanagement has devalued an estate, public administrators may be called in to take over. These government employees can also be appointed guardians for people who are unable to live independently if no suitable party can be found. In these cases, the public administrator makes decisions on behalf of the ward and manages any property in the ward's name.


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