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Chapter 11. The Bureaucracy. What is a Bureaucracy?. A large organization structured hierarchically to carry out specific functions Private bureaucracies exist within organizations like corporations Have a single set of leaders; serve shareholders; driven by profit motive

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Chapter 11

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chapter 11
Chapter 11

The Bureaucracy

what is a bureaucracy
What is a Bureaucracy?
  • A large organization structured hierarchically to carry out specific functions
  • Private bureaucracies exist within organizations like corporations
    • Have a single set of leaders; serve shareholders; driven by profit motive
  • Public bureaucracies exist within organizations like governments
    • Typically have multiple sets of leaders (Congress, president, etc.); serve citizens; driven by needs of citizens
  • Federal bureaucracy grounded in Article II, Sections 2 and 3
  • Why bureaucracy? Increasing complexity of society, economy; increasing demands for government responsiveness; Congress does not have time or expertise to oversee administration of all of its statutes; delegates to specialized agencies
models of bureaucracy
Models of Bureaucracy
  • Weberian model = bureaucracy a response to increasing social complexity and demands
    • Hierarchical
    • Formal procedures
    • Power flows from top down
    • Advancement on merit
    • Bureaucrats are specialists, professionals
    • Decisions made based on logical reasoning and data analysis
  • Acquisitive model = top-level bureaucrats seek greater funding, staffs, and privileges to increase their power
  • Monopolistic model = bureaucracies are inefficient and costly; lack competition
organization of the federal government
Organization of the Federal Government
  • Cabinet Departments (15 departments of executive branch, aka executive departments)
  • Independent Executive Agencies (not part of cabinet department); report directly to president
  • Independent Regulatory Agencies (outside major executive departments, which makes rules, regulations to protect public interest)
  • Government Corporations (quasi-business enterprise)
    • TVA, FDIC, Ex-Im Bank, Amtrak, Postal Service
independent regulatory agencies
Independent Regulatory Agencies
  • Have legislative, executive, and judicial functions (make rules/laws, enforces them, and adjudicate disputes)
  • Members (cannot all be from same party) appointed by the president and approved by the Senate
  • Can only be removed by the president for just cause
  • Agency capture = direct or indirect control over agency by industry being regulated resulting in less competition, higher prices, and less consumer choice
staffing the bureaucracy
Staffing the Bureaucracy
  • Two categories of bureaucrats = political appointees and civil servants
  • Political appointees (patronage)
    • “Aristocracy” of the federal government
    • Often just figureheads
  • Civil Service (permanent)
    • Difficult to dismiss
    • Typically less than .1% per year fired for incompetence
history of the federal civil service
History of the Federal Civil Service
  • Jeffersonian “natural aristocracy”
  • Jacksonian Spoils system
  • Civil Service Reform Act of 1883
    • Professional/Merit system (appointments based on competitive exams) (now covers up to 90% of bureaucracy)
    • Civil Service Commission
  • Hatch Act of 1939
    • Prohibited federal employees from participating in campaigns (amended by Federal Employees Political Activities Act of 1993)
  • Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
    • Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
    • Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)
modern bureaucratic reform
Modern Bureaucratic Reform
  • Sunshine laws (1976) – requires multihead federal agencies to conduct business in public session
  • Sunset laws – programs be reviewed and terminated if not effective
  • Privatization – government services replaced by private sector (e.g., prisons, schools, social security (?))
  • Incentives – maximizing efficiency and productivity for improved performance (e.g., Government Performance and Results Act (1997); “performance-based budgeting”)
  • Root of problem – decision-making process; public officials; challenges
  • e-government – improved efficiency and lowered costs
  • Helping whistle blowers – someone who blows the whistle on inefficiency or illegal action
bureaucrats as politicians and policymakers
Bureaucrats as Politicians and Policymakers
  • Enabling legislation – Congressional statute creating an agency, purpose, composition, functions, and powers grants agency discretion in carrying out and interpreting laws
  • Rules, regulations published in Federal Register, with a 60-day wait before implementation
  • Negotiated rulemaking (1990) – allows those affected by new rule, regulation to participate in rule-drafting process
  • Iron triangles – three-way alliance between legislators, bureaucrats, and interest groups to preserve, make policies that benefit their respective interests
  • Issue networks – group of individuals or organizations (legislators, staff, interest groups, bureaucrats, media, scholars, etc.) that supports a particular policy position
congressional control of the bureaucracy
Congressional Control of the Bureaucracy
  • Power of the purse
    • Authorizing funds
    • Appropriating funds
  • Congressional investigations, hearings, and review (oversight)
    • General Accounting Office
    • Congressional Budget Office
  • Congressional Review Act (1996) – special procedure used to express Congressional disapproval of particular agencies actions
discussion questions
Discussion questions
  • Which model of bureaucracy is most persuasive (Weberian, acquisitive, monopolistic)?
  • What can be done to increase the efficiency and accountability of the bureaucracy?
  • Is agency capture a problem?
  • What can be done to decrease the negative effects of iron triangles and issue networks?
hot links to selected internet resources
Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources:
  • Book’s Companion Site:
  • Wadsworth’s Companion Site:
  • First Gov:
  • The Federal Web Locator: