Bureaucratic Pathologies

Chapter 13: Wilson
AP Government and Politics
Assignment 13
GSA gave out bogus ‘Jackass
Award’ to justify dinners
By Emily Heil (4/13/2012)
 The General Services Administration, already smarting from a
scandal over a lavish conference in Las Vegas, has a new reason to
cringe: GSA employees made up bogus prizes, including a “Jackass
Award,” in order to justify taxpayer-funded dinners, Roll Call is
 An employee told the agency’s inspector general that supervisors
would invent reasons to honor employees at conferences so they
could serve dinner. The “Jackass Award” was given at one
conference to an employee “for doing something stupid,” the
employee said, according to a transcript of the interview with the IG
that Roll Call obtained.
 The fake awards follow on the heels of all kinds of embarrassing
revelations about the GSA’s conferences. The Las Vegas confab that
drew criticism featured a clown and a “mentalist,” and another GSA
event — also held in Sin City — included a motivational speech by
the man who inspired the football flick “Rudy.”
On Making Policy…
 Public policy making in European parliamentary
systems has been likened to a prize fight, where two
challengers face off and the winner gets to set
 The American system, however, is more like a
barroom brawl in which "anybody can join in, the
combatants fight all comers and sometimes change
sides, no referee is in charge, and the fights last not
for a fixed number of rounds but indefinitely or until
everybody drops from exhaustion.”
Bureaucratic Pathologies
 Pathology (for our
purposes) –
 Departure or deviation
from a normal condition;
 Bureaucratic
pathologies are
essentially “diseases”
that bureaucratic
agencies suffer from
that make them less
efficient than they
might normally be.
Pathology #1
Red Tape
 "any official
routine or
marked by
which results in
delay or
Existence of complex rules and procedures that
must be followed to get something done.
Pathology #2
• Conflict - when some agencies work at cross-
purposes with other agencies.
Pathology #3
• Duplication - when multiple government agencies seem to be
doing the same thing
• Congress rarely gives any one job to a single agency. For example, drug
trafficking is the task of the Customs Services, the FBI, the DEA, the Border
Patrol, and the DoD. Although this spreading out of the responsibility often
leads to contradictions among agencies and sometimes inhibits the
responsiveness of government, it also keeps any one agency from becoming all
Pathology #4
• Imperialism - tendency of
agencies to expand their
responsibilities and areas of
control without regard for the
actual benefits that programs
entail or costs they incur.
Pathology #5
• When an agency
spends more than
is necessary to buy
some product or

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