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GOVT. CHAPTER 13 The Bureaucracy. Learning Objectives. The Nature and Size of the Bureaucracy. The Growth of the Bureaucracy. In 1789, the federal government had three departments, and about 50 employees. Today, the three levels of government employ more than 15% of the labor force. .

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The Bureaucracy

the growth of the bureaucracy
The Growth of the Bureaucracy
  • In 1789, the federal government had three departments, and about 50 employees.
  • Today, the three levels of government employ more than 15% of the labor force.
the costs of maintaining the government
The Costs of Maintaining the Government
  • In 1929, government at all levels accounted for about 11% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
the executive departments
The Executive Departments
  • The 15 executive departments are the major service organizations of the federal government.
  • Each executive department manages a specific policy area.
independent executive agencies
Independent Executive Agencies
  • Are federal bureaucratic organizations that have a single function.
  • They are independent in that they are not located within a department but rather report directly to the president.
  • Some agencies are kept independent because of the sensitive nature of their functions or to protect them from partisan politics.
independent regulatory agencies
Independent Regulatory Agencies
  • Responsible for a specific type of public policy.
  • Their function is to create and implement rules that regulate private activity and protect the public interest in a particular sector of the economy.
government corporations
Government Corporations
  • Businesses that are owned by the government.
  • These are like private corporations in that they provide a service that could be handled by the private sector, and they charge for their services.
how bureaucrats get their jobs13
How Bureaucrats Get Their Jobs
  • Federal bureaucrats holding top-level positions are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
  • The rest of the federal bureaucracy are part of the civil service and obtain their jobs through the Office of Personnel Management.
  • The 1978 Civil Service Reform Act created the Merit Systems Protection Board to oversee promotions, employees’ rights, and other employment matters.
agency creation
Agency Creation
  • Federal administrative agencies are created when Congress passes enabling legislation which specifies the name, purpose, composition, and powers of the agency being created.
  • A major function of a regulatory agency is rulemaking – the formulation of new regulations.
  • Agencies cannot just make a rule whenever they wish, but must follow certain procedural requirements, particularly those set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946.
  • Agencies must also make sure that their rules are not “arbitrary and capricious.”
    • Bureaucrats work closely with members of Congress and interest groups when making rules.
policymaking and the iron triangle
Policymaking and the Iron Triangle
  • Bureaucrats are expected to exhibit neutral competency, applying their skills to their jobs without regard to political issues.
  • In reality, agencies and departments wish to retain or expand their functions and staffs; to do this, they must gain the goodwill of both the White House and Congress.
  • The iron triangle is a three-way alliance among legislators, bureaucrats, and interest groups.
congresses role
Congresses Role
  • The Department of Agriculture is headed by the secretary of agriculture, who is nominated by the president.
  • The secretary cannot do any spending if Congress does not approve the appropriations for the department’s budget.
  • Within Congress, the responsibility of considering funding belongs to the House and Senate appropriations committees and then to the subcommittees under them.
the influence of interest groups
The Influence of Interest Groups
  • The various interest groups have vested interests in what the Department of Agriculture does and in what Congress lets the department do.
  • Those interests are represented by lobbyists, many of whom have been working for interest groups for decades, know the committee members and department staff well, and routinely meet with them.
issue networks
Issue Networks
  • The Iron Triangle relationship does not apply to all policy domains.
  • Legislators and agency heads tend to depend on their staff members for specialized knowledge of rules, regulations, and legislation.
  • The relationships among these experts are often referred to as issue networks, which are less interdependent and unified than iron triangles and often include more players.
helping out the whistleblowers
Helping out the Whistleblowers
  • Someone who blows the whistle, or reports, on gross governmental inefficiency, illegal action, or other wrongdoing.
  • Congress has passed laws to protect whistleblowers.
    • The 1978 Civil Service Reform Act
    • The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989
improving efficiency and getting results
Improving Efficiency and Getting Results
  • The Government Performance and Results Act of 1997 requires virtually every agency to describe goals and a method for evaluating how well those goals are met.
  • A “performance-based budgeting” system initiated by President George W. Bush is designed to increase performance and accountability by linking the funding of federal agencies to their actual performance.
  • President Obama has created a chief performance officer who reports directly to the president and works with other economic officials to increase efficiency and eliminate waste.
another approach pay for performance plans
Another Approach: Pay for Performance Plans
  • Federal government workers traditionally have received fixed salaries; promotions and salary increases are given on the basis of seniority, not output.
  • The federal government has begun experimenting with pay-for-performance systems.
  • The U.S. Postal Service has implemented a program which ties bonuses to performance.
  • Privatization means turning over certain types of government work to the private sector.
  • Virtually all of the states have privatized at least a few of their services.
  • The Bush administration privatized the work undertaken by some 850,000 federal workers.
  • Under President Obama, however, privatization is no longer a major issue on the government’s agenda.
is it possible to reform the bureaucracy
Is It Possible to Reform the Bureaucracy?
  • The bureaucracy is deeply entrenched and is often characterized by inertia and slow-moving responses to demands for change.
  • Political appointees often know little about the work of the agency they are appointed to and must look to the rank-and-file staff members for assistance.
  • Federal employees have significant rights. Once a federal worker is hired, firing him or her is extremely difficult, regardless of job performance.
government in the sunshine
Government in the Sunshine
  • In 1966, Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act, which requires federal agencies to disclose any information in agency files to any person requesting it.
  • Since the 1970’s, “sunshine laws” requiring government meetings to be open to the public, have been enacted at all levels of American government.
  • In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, however, the government began tightening its grip on information. Agencies were given new guidelines on what should be considered public information.
an expanding bureaucracy
An Expanding Bureaucracy
  • In response to the financial crisis that struck in September 2008, Congress passed and President Bush signed a $700 billion bank bail-out bill.
  • The $787 billion stimulus bill passed after President Obama took office was largely aimed at stabilizing and increasing employment in state and local government.
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