Maintaining the commitment of public agencies to serve the disadvantaged persists as one of the most vexing problems in public affairs. This study places in an historical perspective the commitment of the Wisconsin State Employment Service (WSES) to serve the disadvantaged during the late 1960s and the retreat from this emphasis in the 1970s. The WSES displays a tradition of tension between operating-level employees who aspire to serve a job-ready clientele, and top decisionmakers who, from time to time, sense a need for direct service to the disadvantaged. The study suggests that effective service to the disadvantaged depends upon continuous, centralized contol, which is cognizant of the organizational dynamics inherent in serving this segment of society.

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