Welcome visitors!

Please be aware that this is a student-generated wiki designed for review for my students' AP exams. Come in, look around, and enjoy yourself...just be aware of the nature of this wiki. Even though most everything is correct, I advise caution before citing this as an authoritative source.


A bureaucracy is a large, complex organization composed of appointed officials. Authority is divided as each bureaucrat has a specific responsibility; one person cannot make all the decisions. Many of the problems that exist with the bureaucracy are the result of actions taken by congress, the courts, and the president (Benson and Waples). The bureaucracy is the administrative system governing any large institution.
  • Examples of bureaucracy include large corporations, big universities, and a government agency. Congress, with its sizable staff, is a bureaucracy to some degree. Even the Department of Motor Vehicles is a bureaucracy.

Characteristics of the American Bureaucracy
  • Policies enacted in response to, and seeking to alleviate, the Great Depression and WWII were part of an increase in government activism and federal programs (outside of the three Constitutionally-specified aspects of government) as a result the roles of bureaucracies increased (Wilson)
  • Political authority or the ability to exercise authority over bureaucracy is shared by the president and Congress.
  • Three aspects of our constitutional system and political traditions give bureaucracy a distinctive character (Wilson):
    • Political authority is not in one set of hands but shared among several institutions
    • Most of the agencies of federal government share their functions with related agencies in state or local government
    • Institutions and traditions of American life contributed to the growth of "adversary culture"- the definition and expansion of personal rights are given central importance
      • Government agencies work under the "close scrutiny" of the public (Wilson)
    • Our government regulates privately owned enterprises to a degree not found in many other countries, rather than owning and operating large parts of the economy.
  • The main source of power in the bureaucracy is any discretionary authority; that is, the ability to make decisions on its own. Thus Congress may vaguely describe what it wants to get done through legislation, but the bureaucracy may create more specific regulations in accordance with their legislation.
  • Some federal agencies deal directly with the citizens(such as the Internal Revenue Service that collects taxes directly from the citizens), while other agencies work with different levels of government (such as the Department of Education that gives money to the local school systems)
  • Federal agencies have substantial power in setting policy
Lack of federal regulations: (Wilson)
Following the Civil War, the national economy and industry grew which demanded federal regulations of business. There was a lack of government activism.
  • Popular belief of limited government
  • States' rights are more important
  • Fear of concentration of power
  • Desire to have a freely competitive economy
  • Too much power vested in the presidency
  • Weakness of Congress
  • Strong corporations and trusts grew out of the railroad, steel, and oil industries.
  • These trusts managed most of the workers rights, and monopolized business with little opposition from the government
Executive Level Departments
  • The cabinet: There are 15 cabinet departments headed by a secretary with the exception of the Justice Department. They manage specific policy areas and each has its own budget and staff.
  • The 15 Departments in order of succession are: Department of the State, Dept. of the Treasury, Dept. of Defense, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Labor, Dept. of Health and Human services, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of education, Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Dept. of Homeland Security (whitehouse.gov)
  • Government corporations: Such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Resolution Trust Corporation, created to deal with monetary failures.
  • Independent executive agencies: Such as the General Services Administration, which handles government purchasing.
    • generally "run of the mill" bureaucracies with broad presidential oversight (Meltzer)
    • quasi legislative agencies- independent agencies responsible for filling gaps and writing rules in writing legislation (Meltzer)
    • quasi- judicial agencies- responsible for rule enforcement and punishing violators (Meltzer)
(AP U.S. Government and Politics, Barron's, 2009)
  • The largest executive department is the Department of Defense which contains about 650,000 civilian employees who are important roles in our society and keeping our defense as a nation strong.
  • Depending on the party (or the individual) in charge of the executive branch (whether the president is Democrat or Republican), the different departments may shift in priority. For example, the Department of Commerce is probably more likely to be a higher priority under a Republican president, while the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development may take lower priority than it would under a Democratic president.
The Appointment of Officials
  • According to Wilson and Dilulio, since Congress was the more dominant branch during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, congressional preferences usually controlled the appointment of officials.
  • The Spoils System wrought havoc on the perception of "fairness" in appointment to political positions, and later on, this was reflected in the early 1910's and 1920's with the rise and dominance of political bosses and machines.
  • The rotation system of office holders stressed the idea that no man was more capable than another of holding any office. Such democratic ideal that one man was as good as the other also contributed to the growth of political machines during the progressive era.
  • According to Wilson and Dilulio, the Civil War was a great watershed in bureaucratic development, because fighting the war led to hiring many new officials and creating many new offices.
  • Appointed officials affect how the laws are interpreted, the tone of the administration, the effectiveness of public business, and how strong the political party in power will be (Wilson).
  • Employees appointed on grounds other than or in addition to merit:
    • Presidential appointments authorized by statue
    • "Schedule C" appointments to jobs that are described as having a "confidential or policy determining character below the level of cabinet/sub cabinet posts
    • Non-career executive assignments given to high-ranking members of the regular competitive civil service or to persons brought into the civil service at these high levels.
  • Appointed officials can decide almost anything by:
    • manner in which they're recruited and rewarded
    • personal attributes: socioeconomic backgrounds and political attitudes.
    • nature of their jobs
    • constraints that outside forces impose on their agencies.

For example, the largest bureaucracy today is the Department of Defense. The department is headed by the Secretary of Defense, who must be a civilian. The Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy are each headed by a civilian, who, with the Secretary of Defense, report to the President on military issues. In this perspective, the military is controlled by civilians.
  • The Federal "Washington Bureaucracy" (Figure 15.1, 415)
    • 5.6 m on federal contracts
    • 4.6 m working under federal mandate for state or local governments
    • 0.9 m on postal workers
    • 1.9 m Federal civil servants
    • 2.4 m On federal grants

A Service Role
  • Although from 1861-1901 many new agencies were created, most of these agencies main role was primarily to serve, not to regulate.
  • According to Wilson, over two hundred thousand new federal employees were added
  • The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), created in 1887, was one of the first to enable the federal government to actually regulate the economy.
  • The reason behind why federal officials performed a service role was because there was still a strong sense of limited government, the importance of state rights, and the fear of any concentrated discretionary power.
  • Most of the agencies created during this period mostly did research, gathered statistic, dispensed federal lands, or passed out benefits. (Wilson)
  • These three factors inspired a laissez-faire type attitude meaning that government should not regulate or interfere with commerce
  • The Constitution said nothing about giving any regulatory power to bureaucrats. It gave Congress the ability to regulate commerce among the states.
  • The prevailing interpretation of the Constitution was that no such agency could exercise such regulatory powers unless Congress first set down clear standards that would govern the agency's decisions (Wilson).
    • Ex: President Wilson was authorized by Congress to fix prices, operate railroads, manage the communications, and control the distribution of food during World War 1.
  • The creation of new agencies have also resulted in the creation of new jobs and new industries. Such as when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in the Nixon administration, an entire new industry was created to serve to the interests of the environment.
  • EPA was largely spurred by the increasing consciousness for the environment created by the public and to sate the desire of those who felt nothing was being done.
  • As late as 1935 the Supreme court held that a regulatory agency could not makes on its own; it only apply the standards enacted by congress (Wilson 413).
  • During wartime, the number of employees working for the government increased by a great amount; it did not return to its original level when war was over because the employees were hired by agencies from departments that did not relate to war, such as the Department of the Treasury.

A Change in Role
After the terrorist attacks in 2001, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came into action the following year 2003, by showing its authority over twenty two smaller agencies.
  • Today's bureaucracy is a product of two events:
    • The depression in the 1930s resulted in Americans greater dependence on government aid as well as government regulation with the New Deal Program which sought to alleviate the effects of the depression.
    • WWII, which also saw the implementation of the income tax, increasing the need for a larger bureaucracy. WWII also allowed for the growth in the bureaucracy because agencies could easily claim that they would help the war effort and it looked bad for politicians to deny something that might help the war effort.
  • According to Wilson, the basic features of the bureaucracy were set mainly as a result of changes in public attitudes and in constitutional interpretation that occurred during these periods.
  • A third event, the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, could affect the bureaucracy as profoundly as the Great Depression of the 1930's and WWII, although the definitive effects of this event on the American bureaucracy will not be seen for several years if not decades.
  • It is now clear in the present that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. have affected the bureaucracy. It has especially affected the Department of Defense and also the Department of Homeland Security that was created after the terrorist attacks.
  • The government was now expected to play an active role on in dealing with economic and social problems.
  • In the 1932 the court reversed its earlier decision on the question of delegating legislative powers to administrative agencies and upheld laws by which congress merely instructs agencies to make decisions that serve the “public interest”
  • As a result it was possible for Nixon to to set up a system of price and wage controls based on based on statute that simple authorized the president to “to issue such orders and regulations as he may appropriate to stabilize price, wages, rent, and salaries” in 1971.
  • WWII was the first occasion during which the government made heavy use of federal income taxes.
    • In 1940, the amount of federal income taxes collected was $5 billion; by 1946, it totaled $45 billion. When the war finished, income taxes were not reduced because the money collected would finance the military and social programs.
  • Federal income taxes were used on individuals and corporations to finance certain activities.

Expansion of the Bureaucracy
  • Supreme Court upheld laws that granted discretion to administrative agencies.
Heavy use of income taxes supported war efforts and a larger bureaucracy.
  • Discretionary authority- the extent to which bureaucrats can chose courses of action and make policies that are not spelled out in advance by laws (Wilson).
    • Congress gave administrative agencies authority in three areas:
      • Paying subsidies to certain organizations like farmers, veterans, hospitals, etc.
      • Transferring money from the federal government to state and local governments through grants.
      • Devising and enforcing regulations for various sectors of society: the economy, schools, health care, roads, and telecommunications.
  • President Andrew Jackson began rewarding his supporters in the presidential election by giving them positions in government. These type of appointments is known as the Spoils System.
  • The Civil War began the rapid expansion of the bureaucracy because it exposed the administrative deficiencies of the government.
  • federal civil service system: designed to recruit and promote qualified individuals on basis of merit and performance, was put into place by the Pendleton Act in 1883 (less discriminatory in hiring minorities/women than private businesses).
    • According to Wilson, in recent years the competitive service system has become decentralized, so that each agency now hires its own people without an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) referral.
      • The OPM administers civil service laws and regulations and is in charge of hiring for most federal agencies (Krieger 108).
    • 1952, more than 86% of all federal employees were civil servants hired by the competitive service. In 1996 this had fallen to less than 54% (Wilson and Dilulio).
    • The decentralization of the competitive service system is caused by three things:
      • The old OPM system was not relevant to the complex needs of departments. (Wilson)
      • Agencies needed more professional employees that were not ranked solely based on a standard test score.
      • Civil rights groups pressured Washington into making the federal bureaucracy racially diverse similar to the nation as whole.
        • Blue-collar employment fell from 26% of the federal work force in 1973 to 16% in 1993. Meanwhile, the federal government's white-collar work force has become more diverse occupationally.
    • In this respect, the federal government is similar to private business - Person learns of job from someone who already has one or the head of a bureau decides in advance whom he or she wants to hire (Wilson 418)
      • This is sometimes offered to specific people because the bureaucracy already knows who they wish to hire and they do not want to go through the entire lengthy process (Wilson).
    • "Buddy system" : frequently a way of hiring people known to the agency as being capable of handling the position and hiring people whose policies views are similar to those already in office(Wilson 418)
      • The buddy system does not necessarily produce poor employees
      • the job description may be tailored in a way that fits the aimed person so that the person will be hired
      • A way of hiring people the agency knows that are capable of handling a position
      • Allows agencies to hire people whose policy views are congenial to those already in the office
        • Now it is based on shared policy views instead of political party affiliation as it once was before. The bureaucracy is more likely to hire those that share the same interests and not necessary are part of the same political party (Wilson).
      • One exception to the allowance of a buddy system lies in Senior Executive Service (Wilson)
    • Some of them are hired by agencies that have their own procedures for hiring, such as the FBI and Post Office.
    • With passage of Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 Congress realized that many high level positions in the civil service have important policy-making responsibilities, so the president and his cabinet should have more flexibility recruiting, assigning, and paying such people
      • Act created the Senior Executive Service: about 8000 top federal managers who can be hired, fired, and transferred more easily than ordinary civil servants
      • Members of SES would be eligible for large cash bonuses if they performed their duties well/anyone removed from SES is guaranteed a job elsewhere
      • Very few SES members are likely to be transferred or fired because of their standing
      • Only 10 percent of the SES can be selected from outside of the existing civil service. ( Wilson 420)
  • Social class, education, and personal political beliefs shape how powers are used and which agency an official works for

The Growth of the Bureaucracy
  • The Constitution made scarcely any provision for an administrative system other than to allow the President to appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, “ambassadors, other public ministers and counsels, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law.” Departments and bureaus were not mentioned.
  • The first traces of a Bureaucracy began in 1789 when James Madison introduced a bill to create a Department of State to assist the Secretary of State in carrying out his duties. After much debate in Congress the bill was passed and it stated that "all cabinet departments subsequently created, would be run by the people removable only by the president." (Wilson and Dilulio 412)
  • While its not clear who is in control of the bureaucracy, Congress retains the right to appropriate money, to investigate the administration, and to shape the laws that would be executed by the administration—more than ample power to challenge the President who claims the sole authority over his subordinates.
  • The appointment of officials are tough decisions because those officials would affect how the laws are interpreted, what tone the administration will display, how effectively the public business in discharged, and how strong the political party or faction in power will be.
  • The Pendleton Act of 1883 "began a a slow, but steady transfer of federal jobs from the patronage system to the merit system". The merit system is when a individual gets hired because they are qualified enough for the job position. The patronage system is when appointments are based on political consideration and which rewards supporters, creates congressional support, and builds party organizations (Waples).
    • The Pendleton Act also led to more jobs being filled by people suited to be there, like a person with expertise in the agricultural sciences could be a great asset to the Department of Agriculture
    • The effects of the Pendleton act in supporting specialization in positions led to the positions producing the most growth later on down the line. Nowadays most positions are based on merit and qualifications rather than patronage.
    • Two factors that made it possible for the Republicans to pass the Pendleton Act
      1) Public outrage over the abuses of the spoils system that began during Jackson's presidency
      2) Fear that if the Democrats came to power with antispoils sentiment, existing Republican officeholders would be fired
  • In the early days of the Washington the only agency with any power was the Treasury and the only agency with any significant service was the Post Office.
  • After the Civil War there was a growth in the number of agencies and bureaucrats (created to deal with the sudden arrival of an entire demographic of new citizens). These new agencies offered services like administering military pensions. A huge body of regulations was not created because:
  1. "There was still a belief in a limited government".
  2. "The States' rights continued to be important".
  3. "There was a fear of concentrated discretionary power".
  4. "There was a commitment to laissez-faire".

Current State of Bureaucracy
  • Federal Bureaucracy is big, but there has been little to no increase in direct employment to the federal government.
  • Many attempts have been made to make the bureaucracy work better or more efficiently
    • 11 major attempts in just the 20th century (Wilson)
  • There is over 500 departments, agencies, administrations, authorities and commissions that carry out the tasks demanded from the Congressional legislation.
  • However, there is a vastly increasing number of employees working for the federal bureaucracy indirectly, via private and local agencies that are largely federally funded.
    • about 13 million people work indirectly for DC
    • approximately 2.7 million civilian and 1.4 million military federal government employees (Krieger 107)
    1. Bureaucrats: employees of agencies or bureaus (differ from elected officials).
  • Bureaucrats are popular targets
  • Bureaucracy now consists of those in the competitive service, in which they must pass a written examination to be appointed, and those in the excepted service, in which they are not hired based on a written exam but in some nonpartisan way.
    • According to Wilson and Dilulio, in recent years, the competitive service has become more decentralized and examinations have become less common. This is because"
      • Civil rights groups have pressed Washington to make racial composition of the federal bureaucracy look more like the racial composition of the nation.
      • The agencies needed had a need for more professionally trained employees, such as lawyers and engineers, who could not be ranked on the basis of an exam (416).
  • The power of the bureaucracy depends on the extent to which appointed officials have discretionary authority (the ability to choose courses of action and to make policies that are not spelled out in advance by laws.)
  • Congress has delegated substantial authority to administrative agencies in three areas: paying subsidies to particular groups and organizations in society, transferring money from the federal government to state and local governments, and devising and enforcing regulations for various sectors of society and the economy.
    • Manner in which they were recruited and rewarded.
    • Personal attributes
    • Nature of their jobs
    • Outside forces imposing on their agencies.
    • Personal opinions on key issues (something that often causes tension within agencies because of competing views)
  • It is very difficult to fire a bureaucrat
    • The employer would have to have a good reason and dedicate a great deal of time towards the firing of the bureaucrat
    • If an employer does want to fire a bureaucrat, there is a six step process that they have to go through, including hearings and appeals (Wilson).
    • The process of firing a bureaucrat may take up to a year to complete.
    • Because of the numerous hoops to jump through to fire a bureaucrat, incompetent bureaucrats are are often allowed to hold their position. It is because of this unpopular and confusing decisions are made relatively frequently in the government.
    • Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 recognized that many high-level positions in the civil service have important policy making responsibilities and that the president and his cabinet officers ought to have more flexibility in recruiting, assigning, and paying such people.
    • Such positions are not easy to replace, leading to the increased survivability, or decreased likelihood, of being fired from the position.
  • Since, it is hard to fire bureaucrats some suspect that they (the bureaucrats) may attempt to undermine the efforts of their bosses and obstruct any sort of action they do not favor by not obeying their bosses.
    • This is not true in most circumstances. Bureaucrats generally obey the commands of their bosses, even if their own personal opinion differs from the decisions of their bosses. In general the bureaucrats are willing to agreeably work with bosses, who are positive and courteous.
    • There are some occasions where bureaucrats will try to slow down or block a policy from being passed. Also, presidents who are conservative tend to worry about civil servants since they tend to be liberal (Wilson).
    • In highly defined working conditions, where there are various rules and laws are applied to a procedure, it is unpractical for a bureaucrat to conduct his work based on his personal opinions and political beliefs. It would be necessary for the bureaucrat to follow the guidelines, especially if there is supervision from an agency head.
    • However, civil servants may let their attitudes highly influence them if they work tasks that are loosely structured and not monitored often (Wilson).
  • The Whistle Blower Protection Act was passed in 1989 as a defense mechanism for bureaucrats. The bureaucrats are given a buffer from being penalized by their agency head for alerting Congress of inefficiencies, such as waste, within the agency.
    • The Office of Special Counsel examines cases in which a bureaucrat claims to have been penalized by an agency head unjustifiably for revealing such inefficiencies to Congress (Wilson and Dilulio 422-423).
  • Minority races, such as African Americans have a proportionally larger presence in the lower ranks of the bureaucracy, in comparison to their presence in the higher ranks of the bureaucracy, such GS (General Schedule) 16 and GS 17--numbers used to stand for the pay scale of the members within that particular rank (Wilson and Dilulio 421)[1]

  • The Constitution, however, did not explicitly define in which ways bureaucracy should be developed.
  • During the 1960s, there was an increase in government employment due to the growing bureaucracy.

Mainly, the bureaucracy can be organized under fifteen executive branch departments, from which hundreds of other agencies take root:[2]
  • Department of State
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Defense
    • About 30% of civilian bureaucratic employees work for this departments (Meltzer and Levy 107)
    • Largest Department, and headed by Secretary of Defense (Meltzer and Levy 107)
    • Joint Chiefs of Staff are the five heads of military services and they carry out defense policies (Meltzer and Levy 107)
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • Department of Homeland Security (the most recent department established)

Bureaucracies that do not fall under these fifteen categories are either independent agencies or regulatory agencies.

Why is there so much “red tape"? (and why don't we call it marker tape???)external image 11969801.jpg
  • Red tape: Complex bureaucratic rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done (Wilson). Red tape rules tend to be too difficult to understand for the general public.
  • “red tape” exists because of all the demands coming from congress, the white house supreme court, or because of interests or conflicting interests.
  • We want people to hire minorities and women
  • We want everything to be fair, so we stop all means of progress.
  • Lower-level bureaucrats may defer decision-making to their supervisors if they do not want to take the blame for the decision.
  • Every bit of red tape was put in place by Congress the courts, the White House or the agency itself responding to demands of some influential faction.
  • If the public wanted agencies to pursue their main goal with less red tape, the public would ask Congress to repeal some of the constraints on agencies. However to begin do this, the people would have to be willing to make trade-offs. The problem is that the public is not willing to make trade-offs and expects to get everything and the cost of this is red tape.

Agency Allies
  • Iron Triangle: This has been described as the relationship between a committee, an agency and an interest group. An example of this would be the military-industrial complex, with Congress, defense contractors and the Department of Defense all being part of an iron triangle.
  • Iron triangles are typically informal alliances between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group (Wilson). Through these iron triangles, the self-interests of the committee, agency, and interest groups are served.
  • Iron triangles are a form of client politics, which is when a minority group or interest group benefits from something, while the public negatively benefits from this same thing, such as pork barrel spending.
  • Departments would do what the committees wanted and in return get political support and budget appropriations
  • Hugh Heco, a political scientist, says that typical government agencies are more embedded in issue networks, with people who are a part of interest groups, agencies, congressional staffs who debate and advocate policy regularly on certain issues such as health care.

  • Presidents tend to recruit key agency officials from the members of the issue network who relate the most to his views (Wilson and Dilulio).
For instance, when Reagan became president, he appointed people with free market and anti-regulation viewpoints to key consumer group positions.
  • Iron triangles are much less common today. This is due to the fact that the number and variety of interest groups have increased, most agencies are subject to control by many different legislative groups, and the courts have made it easier for all kinds of individuals and interests to intervene in agency affairs. Iron triangles have also become less common because politics have become far to complicated.
  • Iron Triangles have been replaced by issue networks which are composed of several interest groups and individuals, professors, think tanks, and the media who regularly debate government policy on a certain subject.
  • Issue Networks are different than Iron Triangles in the sense that Issue Networks try to gain support for public interests, not private ones. Issue Networks often clash with Iron Triangles as public support is created against a private supported interest.
    • The networks are contentious, and split along political, ideological, and economic lines (Wilson and Dilulio).

Forms of Congressional supervision of Bureaucracy
  • In the system of checks and balances Congressional oversight over the Bureaucracy is fundamental.
  • All agencies except for a couple presidential offices and commissions must be approved by Congress or they cannot exist.
  • Approving whether it is necessary or not for creating a new Bureaucracy.
  • Statutes influence agency behaviors.
  • Authorizing and appropriating money for a permanent or limited amount of years.
  • authorization legislation:Legislative permission to begin or continue a government program or agency (Wilson).
  • appropriation: a legislative grant of money to finance a government program or agency
  • Legislative Veto: the authority of Congress to block a presidential action after it has taken place, the Supreme Court has held Congress doesn't have this power.
  • On June 1983 the U.S Supreme Court declared the legislative veto to be unconstitutional in the Chadha case (Wilson and Dilulio)
  • Congressional Investigation: Congress may compel a person to attend an investigation by issuing a subpoena; anyone who ignores the subpoena may be held in contempt.

Appropriations and Legislative Committees
Committees have lost power over federal agencies in three formal ways:
1) The increased number of trust funds, funds for government programs that are collected and spent outside the regular government budget, provide for most of the people's benefits and appropriations committees have no control over them
2) Congress has limited the amount appropriation committees' can spend by shortening their program's length of authorization period
3) Budget deficits in the last two decades have compelled Congress to limit total spending
-One informal way to control agencies is by committee clearance, which is the ability of committees to review and approve certain agency decision in advance and without passing a law
  • These clearances occur when a member of Congress contacts and agency head on behalf of a constituent (Wilson and Dilulio 429).

National Performance Review

  • This was the most recent attempt to reinvent the American bureaucracy lead by Vice President Al Gore (Wilson).
  • Unlike previous reform efforts such as the First Hoover Commission( improving top-level management), the Brownlow Commission (giving the president more assistants), and the Ash Council (consolidating existing agencies), the NPR called for customer satisfaction, less centralized management, more employee initiative, and fewer detailed rules.
  • NPR was reinforced by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 which required agencies "to set goals, measure performance, and report on the results"
  • The ultimate goal of the NPR is to in the future make government more efficient and cost less
  • These attempts to reform the bureaucracy, such as the NPR, are difficult to implement because bureaucracies themselves come under the power of both the president and Congress (Wilson).

Congressional Oversight
  • If an interest group is important to Congress, it is generally taken seriously by the bureaucracy.
  • Congress also has constitutional powers over the agencies and bureaucracies:
    • No agency may exist without congressional approval.
    • No money may be spent without first being approved by Congress.
    • No authorized money may be spent without first being appropriated by the House Appropriations Committee.
    • The special power that the Appropriations committee holds shows the effect of its powerful influence on money and spending
    • Appropriation:According to Wilson and Dilulio, an appropriation is "a legislative grant of money to finance a government program or agency. (pg.428). The bureaucracy is very attentive when Congress is appropriating funds to agencies. If Congress doesn't appropriate enough funds, or no funds at all, it could be the death of the agency.
    • According to Wilson and Dilulio, mark-up sessions, where bills are edited and revised, help the Appropriation committee influence what policies the government agency implements. Though they (Wilson and Dilulio) note that the committee has lost some of its power over the agencies.
    • Trust funds: These are funds for government programs that are collected and spent outside the regular government budget (Wilson and Dilulio 428).
      • These funds are not controlled by the Appropriations Committee which allows Congress more control over the bureaucracy (Wilson and Dilulio 428).
  • After the 9/11 attack Lieberman wants to make a Department of Homeland Security.
    • The Bureaucracy reorganizes itself to make the new adjustments, Congress runs into some problems, but in the end the department goes up.
  • President Bush creates Homeland Security which is investigated by Congress and made sure to be used for its intended purposes.

Maintaining Bureaucratic Neutrality
  • Hatch Act (1993 revision): Bureaucrat's are given the right to join political parties, make campaign contributions, and advertise through bumper stickers and such. (Levy and Meltzer)
  • Bureaucrats cannot run for office, solicit campaign funds, or make political speeches. (Levy and Meltzer)

Frequent Problems with the Bureaucracy (Waples)
  • Red tape has too many complex rules and procedures to follow which slows the policy-making process
    • Grow out of struggles between the president and Congress & periods of divided government make it worse (Waples 186).
  • Conflict occurs when some agencies seem to work at a cross-purpose with another agencies
  • Duplication occurs when two government agencies are doing the same thing providing problems in getting the issue across
  • Imperialism occurs when agencies do not regard the benefits or costs when they grow
  • Waste occurs when agencies spend more than necessary to buy products or services. An example of wasteful duplication would be how both the Agricultural Research Service and Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service pay farmers to grow fewer crops.
  • Government will often act slowly.This is because in order for congress to pass anything it takes time for the official paper works to be approved and signed.
  • Government will act inconsistently because what is done to solve one thing may harm another.
  • Easier to block action than to take action.
  • Citizens complain of red tape the most.
  • Lower-ranking employees reluctant to make decisions on their own.
  • To reduce waste one would have to have more rules and inspectors , which is more red tape.

Constraints with Government
  • Administrative Procedure Act (1946): An agency gives a notice and may hold a hearing before deciding to adopt a new policy (Wilson, 424).
  • Freedom of Information Act: Asides from those containing military intelligence, one has the right to look through government records (Wilson, 424).
  • Privacy Act (1974): Government files regarding individuals are typically kept confidential. Information the public is not privy to would be social security and tax records (Wilson, 424).
  • National Environmental Policy Act: An agency must issue an environmental impact statement before any major act effecting the environment occurs
  • Open Meeting Law (1976): Every part of every agency meeting must be open to the public unless it involves confidential information such as Military or Trade secrets (Wilson, 424).
  • One of the biggest constraints on bureaucratic action is that Congress rarely gives any job to a single agency. (Wilson)
  • Effects of these constraints are: the government will act slowly, the government might act inconsistently, action will be blocked more easily, decisions will not be made easily, and "citizens will complain of red tape," (Wilson 424).

Some Current Bureaucratic Agencies:
  • Administration for Children and Families
  • Census Bureau
  • Economic Adjustment Agency
  • Joint Fire Science Program
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

  1. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 1986. Print.
  2. ^ The Princeton Review, p. 108