History of the Bureaucracy

Who Are Bureaucrats
– Most demographically representative
part of government.
– Diversity of jobs mirrors the private
4 million employees; 2.8 million are civilians or
“civil servants”
President only appoints 3% (patronage or
political appointments)
15 cabinet level departments
200+ independent agencies with 2,000+ bureaus,
divisions, branches, etc.
Biggest - Dept. of Defense, U.S. Postal Service,
Veterans Administration
Implementation - carry out laws of
Congress, executive orders of the President
Administration - routine administrative
work; provide services (ex: SSA sends social
security checks to beneficiaries)
Regulation - issue rules and regulations that
impact the public (ex: EPA sets clean air
Federal Bureaucracy
of the
(Ex: OMB, NSC)
(Ex: State, Defense)
Government Corporations
(Ex: Amtrack, Postal Service)
(Ex: FCC, SEC)
Organization of
Homeland Security
Agencies after 9/11
Independent Executive Agencies
• Established by Congress with separate
status outside the executive branch
• Given a specific mandate and generally
perform a service function, not a
regulatory one.
• Some examples include: Social Security
Administration, CIA, NASA, EPA.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
The Commodity Futures Trading
Commission (CFTC)
The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) The Federal Communications
Commission (FCC)
The Federal Election Commission (FEC)
The Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC)
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)
The Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve System
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment
Board (FRTIB)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The General Services Administration (GSA)
The International Trade Commission (ITC)
The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA)
The National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA)
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
The National Transportation Safety Board
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
The National Science Foundation (NSF)
The Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) The Postal Regulatory Commission
The Selective Service System (SSS)
The Small Business Administration (SBA)
The Social Security Administration (SSA)
The Surface Transportation Board (STB)
The United States Postal Service
Independent Regulatory Commissions
• IRCs exist to regulate a specific economic
activity or interest such as the Federal
Communications Commission (public air
waves) or Federal Reserve Board (banking
system, money supply)
• IRCs operate independently from Congress and
the President
• Once appointed and seated, members cannot
be removed without cause
Government Corporations
• Government owned businesses created
by Congress
• May or may not be profitable, but serve a
public need
• Ex: U.S. Postal Service, Amtrak, Tennessee
Valley Authority, Corporation for Public
– Civil Service: From Patronage to Protection.
Patronage: Job given for political reasons.
Civil Service: System of hiring and promotion
based on merit and nonpartisanship.
Merit Principle: Entrance exams and
promotion ratings to find people with talent
and skill.
Office of Personnel Management: The
federal office in charge of most of the
government’s hiring.
History of the Bureaucracy
– The Whig Theory (1780s – 1828)
• The idea that public service was domain of an
elite class.
• Families had a tradition of public service.
– The Spoils System (1828 – 1883)
• Andrew Jackson used government jobs or
“patronage” to reward supporters and to
remove elitists from the bureaucracy
• History of the Bureaucracy
– The Civil Service System (1883 – Present)
• Garfield’s Assassination 1881
• The Pendleton Act (Civil Service Reform
Act of 1883) established the principle of
employment on the basis of merit and
created the Civil Service System to
oversee the hiring and firing of
government employees
The Other Route to Federal Jobs:
Recruiting from the Plum Book
• Published by Congress.
• Lists the very top jobs available for
Presidential appointment.
• Presidents work to find capable
people to fill the positions.
• Some plum jobs (ambassadorships)
are patronage.
Every four years, just after the
Presidential election, the United
States Government Policy and
Supporting Positions, commonly
known as the Plum Book, is
published, alternately,
by the Senate and the House.
The Plum Book is used to identify
presidentially appointed positions
within the Federal Government.
The Weberian Model
of Bureauracracy
Hierarchical authority structure
Uses task specialization Operate
on the merit principle
Behave with impersonality
A well-organized machine with
lots of working parts.
Organization of Bureaucracies
The Cabinet Departments
--14 Cabinet departments headed by a
--Department of Justice headed by
Attorney General
--Each has its own budget, staff and
policy areas
--Republicans have been trying to
eliminate several departments
The President Supervises the Bureaucracy
The President can:
• appoint & remove
agency heads
• reorganize the
• issue executive orders
President Bush speaks about his budget
priorities for FY 2007
• reduce an agency's
Congress Oversees the Bureaucracy
Congress can:
• create or abolish agencies and departments
• cut or reduce funding
• investigate agency activities
• hold committee hearings
• pass legislation that alters an agency's functions
• influence or even fail to confirm presidential
Federal Courts Check the Bureaucracy
Federal courts can:
• through judicial review courts rule on
whether the bureaucracy has acted within
the law and the U.S. Constitution
• provide due process for individuals
affected by a bureaucratic action
Supreme Court of the United States
Understanding Bureaucracies
• Bureaucracy and Democracy
Iron Triangles and Issue Networks
– A mutually dependent relationship between
bureaucratic agencies, interest groups, and
congressional committees or subcommittees.
– Exist independently of each other.
– They are tough, but not impossible, to get rid of.
– Some argue they are being replaced by wider
issue networks that focus on more policies.
the Iron Triangle is a term used to
describe the policy-making relationship
the congressional committees,
the bureaucracy,
and interest groups.
Figure 15.5
Bad Things That Bureaucrats Do…
– Bureaucracies will try to expand authority
– Bureaucracies will try to develop political
– Bureaucracies will fight over jurisdiction
– The “spend it or lose it” mentality
– Bureaucracies will expand their internal work
– Bureaucracies will become paternalistic and
– “The Peter Principle” – incompetence always
rises to the top…
– Who’s to blame when there’s a problem?

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