Timelines of Public Service
"History does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do."
- James Baldwin, American Novelist and Activist
Public services are usually provided by governments to their constituents and financed with public funds. In cases where nonprofit or private organizations provide such services, services are provided in partnership with governments and under government regulation in order to safeguard the public's interests. Public services guarantee universal access to essential services and amenities, including emergency services such as paramedics and ambulances, fire protection, healthcare, law enforcement, the military, libraries, schools, and social services. Many utilities are also provided as public services, for example: electricity, gas, telecommunications, and water. Increasingly, environmental protection, housing, transportation, and waste management fall within public scope.
The timeline through which the nature and extent of public services are defined is influenced by a wide range of economic, political and social factors and priorities. Intellectual tensions, limited resources, general uncertainty, and political pressures have defined the provision of public services throughout historyand lead to the present (and future) configurations of those services provided in the public sphere and those that fall outside of it. The size of the workforce for delivering public goods and services is a reflection of those values and resources at a given time. According to the United States Census Bureau's annual survey data (2013), released in December 2014, federal, state and local governments employed 14.2 million full-time public service workers and 4.8 million part-time. Across the nation, local government employees comprise the majority (72.3%) of the state and local government workforce. For the same timeline, local governments employed 76.2% of all full time local employees.