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American Government and Politics Today . Chapter 13 The Bureaucracy. The Nature of the Bureaucracy.

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American Government and Politics Today

Chapter 13

The Bureaucracy


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The Nature of the Bureaucracy

  • A bureaucracy is a large organization that is structured hierarchically to carry out specific functions. The purpose of a bureaucracy is the efficient administration of rules, regulations, and policies. Governments, businesses and other institutions such as colleges and universities perforce have bureaucracies.

  • Public and Private Bureaucracies



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Models of Bureaucracy

  • Weberian Model

    • Hierarchy

    • Specialization

    • Rules and regulations

    • Neutrality

  • Acquisitive Model

  • Monopolistic Model

  • Bureaucracies compared


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The Size of the Bureaucracy

  • Today there are about 2.7 million civilian employees of the federal government. (The two biggest employers are the U.S. Postal Service, with almost 800,000 workers, and the Department of Defense, with more than 650,000 civilian staff.) In recent years, the greatest growth in government employment has been at the local level. Federal employment has remained stable.





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The Organization of the Federal Bureaucracy Levels

  • Cabinet Departments

  • Independent Executive Agencies

  • Independent Regulatory Agencies

    • The Purpose and Nature of Regulatory Agencies

    • Agency Capture

    • Deregulation and Reregulation-Airlines

  • Government Corporations




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Staffing the Bureaucracy Levels

  • Political Appointees

    • The aristocracy of the federal government.

      • Temporary leaders

      • Political plums, ambassadorships

    • The difficulty of firing civil servants

  • History of the Federal Civil Service

    • To the victor belong the spoils

      • Andrew Jackson

    • The Civil Service Reform Act of 1883

      • Advancement by competitive examination

      • Civil Service Commission created to administer personnel service to now 90 percent coverage

      • Subsequent court cases removed most political considerations for hiring and firing

    • The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978

      • Abolished CSC and created the Office of Personnel Management, determines best qualified

      • Created the Merit Systems Protection Board, evaluates and resolves disputes

    • Federal Employees and Political Campaigns, Hatch Act 1939 and the Federal Employees Political Activities Act of 1933.


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Modern Attempts at LevelsBureaucratic Reform

  • Sunshine laws require agencies to conduct many sessions in public.

    • The 1966 Freedom of Information Act opened up government files to citizen requests for information, in particular about themselves.

    • After 9/11, however, the government established a campaign to limit disclosure of any information that could conceivably be used by terrorists.

  • Sunset Laws require congressional review of existing programs to determine their effectiveness. If Congress does not explicitly reauthorize a program, it expires.


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Modern Attempts at LevelsBureaucratic Reform (cont.)

  • Privatization

  • Incentives for Efficiency and Productivity

    • The Government Performance and Results Act of 1997

    • One argument is that bureaucratic inefficiencies are the direct result of the political decision-making process.

    • Saving Costs through E-Government

  • Helping Out the Whistle Blowers


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Bureaucrats as Politicians and Policy-Makers Levels

  • The Rulemaking Environment

    • Waiting periods and court challenges

    • Negotiated Rulemaking

  • Iron Triangles: three-way alliance among legislators, bureaucrats, and interest groups that seeks to make or preserve policies that benefit their respective interests

  • Issue Networks: legislators, interest groups, bureaucrats, scholars and experts, and members of the media who share a position on a given issue may attempt to exert influence on the executive branch, on Congress, on the courts or on the media to see their policy position enacted


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Congressional Control of the Bureaucracy Levels

  • The ultimate control is in the hands of Congress because Congress controls the purse strings. Congressional control of the bureaucracy includes the establishment of agencies and departments, the budget process, and oversight conducted through investigations, hearings, and review.


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