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A Comparative View of the American Bureaucracy. Public’s hostile feelings towards ‘big government’ & ‘bureaucracies’. Decentralized: more representational, but less accountable Relatively small compared to other countries (except our regulations; Justice).

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A Comparative View of the American Bureaucracy

  • Public’s hostile feelings towards ‘big government’ & ‘bureaucracies’.

  • Decentralized: more representational, but less accountable

  • Relatively small compared to other countries (except our regulations; Justice)


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  • Incoherent organization — the American bureaucracy has few clear lines of control, responsibility, and accountability

  • Divided control — bureaucratic agencies have two bosses, the President and Congress, who are constantly battling for control

  • Accessibility — individuals and groups can get a hearing and a response from bureaucrats without necessarily starting at the top (Street level)


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Transformation of the Bureaucracy

  • Administrative history: expansion in the size and responsibilities of the executive branch

    • The corporation and the progressives

    • The Great Depression

    • World War II and its aftermath

    • The regulatory state

    • Devolution and rollback

    • The war on terrorism


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What Do Bureaucrats Do?

  • Execute the law

    • Implementing legislative directives

  • Regulate (rule making)

    • Vague directives need filling in

  • Adjudicate

    • e.g. National Labor Relations Board


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What Influences Bureaucratic Behavior?

  • The Public

  • The President

    • Tools of the President (Chief budget officer; Appointments; media)

  • Congress

    • Legislating agency organization and mission

    • Confirming Presidential appointments

    • Controlling the agency budget

    • Holding oversight hearings (Fire-alarm/Police Patrol)

  • Interest groups


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POLICY IMPLICATION?

1. Division of Labor/Development of expertise: more efficient

2. Principle/Agent problems: preventing shirking

3. Rent Seeking: special interest influence

4. Delegation vs. Abdication:


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Why we give bureaucrats discretion?

  • Limiting agency discretion by specifying precise policy details in legislation is costly to legislators.

  • It takes time and skill to write careful legislation.

  • Lack of discretion may also mean less results – a slow and ineffective agency

  • Rational Legislators under uncertainty


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Controlling the Bureaucracy: Preventing Policy Shirking

  • Congressional oversight

    • Committees: Committees have created separate oversight or investigative subcommittees. Increased # of hearings. BUT – Much of the information that subcommittees get on bureaus comes from the agency themselves.

  • Monitoring :

    • Congressional Research Service

    • Congressional Budget Office

    • General Accounting Office

  • Carefully Written Laws

    • overlapping jurisdictions, etc.


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Reforming the Federal Bureaucracy

  • Scaling back the size of the bureaucracy

    • Privatizing

    • Cutting the Red Tape

  • “Reinventing government”

    • Introducing business principles

  • Protecting against bureaucratic abuses of power

  • Increasing Presidential control

    • Reform civil service – more appointees?


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Cutting the Red Tape

  • Where do we start?

    • NSF

    • FCC

    • Funding Student Loans

    • National Parks Service

    • National Weather Service

    • CDC

    • FDA

    • FEC


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  • Extra Credit: Forum Lecture - The Scientific Case for Global Warming: Problems and Prospects

  • Thursday, Oct. 14th, 7:30pm Barrick Museum Auditorium

  • Sign in with Graduate Assistant Jason Mitchell at the Event


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