Unit 4 * The Executive Branch

Chapter 15 – Government At Work
What is a Bureaucracy? An efficient and effective way to
organize people to do work
a. Three Features of Bureaucracy
i. Hierarchical Authority – built like a pyramid, chain of
command running from top to bottom
ii.Job Specialization – Each bureaucrat (person who
works for the organization) has certain defined duties
and responsibilities
iii.Formalized Rules – work according to a set of
regulations and procedures
b. The Benefits of Bureaucracy – effective, can
speed action by reducing conflict, bureaucrats hold
appointive offices so effectiveness is subject to the
effectiveness of those who appoint
The term “red tape” comes from red ribbon used by British
bureaucrats to hold their paperwork together.
Major Elements of the Federal Bureaucracy
a. The federal bureaucracy is all of the agencies, people, and
procedures through which the Federal government
operates. It is the means by which the government makes
and administers public policy.
b. The Framer’s intended for administrative agencies to be
created. Without an administration – the government’s
many administrators and agencies – even the best policies
would amount to just so many words.
The Name Game
a. Titles vary greatly
i. Department typically denotes agencies of cabinet rank.
An agency is any governmental body. A commission is
usually an agency charged with the regulation of
business activities. A corporation or authority is often
given to an agency that conducts business-like
activities. A bureau is the name given to the major
element in a department.
Staff and Line Agencies
a. Staff agencies serve in a support capacity. Line
agencies perform the tasks for which an
organization exists.
The Executive Office of the President
a. Every officer, employee, and agency in the executive
branch of the Federal Government is legally subordinate
to the President. They all exist to help the President in
the exercise of the executive power. The Executive Office
of the President (several agencies staffed by the
President’s Advisors) is the President’s right arm.
The White House Office - The White House houses the
President’s key personal and political staff.
The National Security Council
a. The President’s major foreign affairs moves are taken in
close consultation with the National Security Council.
The President chairs this council. Also contains a small
staff of foreign and military policy experts.
Office of Management and Budget
a. The Office of Management and Budget is the largest, and after the
White House, the most influential unit in the Executive Office. Its
major task is the preparation of the federal budget, which the
President must submit to Congress each year.
b. The federal budget is a very detailed estimate of receipts and
expenditures, an anticipation of the federal income and outgo during
the next fiscal year (the 12 month period used by government and
business for record keeping, budgeting, and other management)
c. The budget is a closely detailed work plan for the conduct of the
Other EOP Agencies
a. Office of National Drug Control Policy
i. Has two major responsibilities – prepares an annual
national drug control strategy which the President
sends to Congress and coordinating the ongoing
efforts of the more than 50 federal agencies that
participate in the continuing war on drugs
b. Council of Economic Affairs
i. Is composed of three of the country’s leading
economists and is the chief source of information on
the state of the nation’s economy
i. The Office of Policy Development advises the President on all
matters relating to the nation’s domestic affairs – all matters not
directly connected to the realm of foreign affairs
ii. The Council of Environmental Quality aids the President in
environmental policy.
iii.The Office of the United States Trade Representative advises the
President in all matters of foreign trader.
iv.The Office of Science and Technology Policy is the President’s
major advisor in all scientific, engineering, and other technology
The Executive Departments – much of the work of the
Federal Government is done by the 15 executive departments
Executive Departments
a. Chief Officers and Staff
Each department is headed by a secretary, except for the
Department of Justice whose work is directed by the
attorney general. Each department head is the primary
link between presidential policy and his/her department.
Each strives to promote or protect his/her department
with the White House (and Congress and its committees
and the media)
b. Subunits
i. Each department up made up of a number of subunits,
both staff and line. Each of these subunits, or
agencies, is usually further divided into smaller
working units. Most of these agencies are structured
c. The Departments Today
i. Vary greatly; the Department of the State is the oldest
and most prestigious. The Department of Health and
Human Services has the largest budget.
The Cabinet
a. The Cabinet is an informal advisory body brought together by the
President to serve his needs. At its first session, Congress established
the 4 top-level executive posts – secretary of state, secretary of
treasury, secretary of war, and the attorney general. The heads of the
now 15 executive departments form the Cabinet.
b. Choosing Cabinet Members
i. The President appoints the head of each of the 15 executive
departments. Each of these is subject to confirmation by the
Senate, but rejection is rare.
ii. Many factors influence this choice – party, helping the President
win office, professional qualifications and practical experience,
geography, interest groups, gender, race, management ability and
experience, etc.
c. Women and Minorities
i. Women and minorities have only gradually become represented in
the Cabinet.
d. The Cabinet’s Role
i. Have two major jobs – each is the administrative head
of one of the executive branches & advisors to the
ii.Most Presidents give great weight to the Cabinet and
to its advice. Many have held regular Cabinet
Independent Agencies – additional agencies created by
Congress located outside the Cabinet departments
Why Independent Agencies?
a. Some have been set up outside of the regular departmental structure
simply because they do not fit well into any department. Some have
been given independent status to protect them from the influence of
partisan/political pressure. Some were just created independently.
b. There are three main groups – the independent executive agencies, the
independent regulatory commissions, and the government
The Independent Executive Agencies
a. Most independent agencies; some are large, with thousands of
employees with large budgets
Examples – The Civil Rights Commission, The Peace Corps,
The Federal Election Commission, and the National
Transportation Safety Board
Independent Regulatory Commissions
a. Stand out because they are largely beyond the reach of
presidential direction and control
b. Independence comes mainly from the way they have been
structured by Congress. Each is headed by a board or
commission made up of five to seven members appointed
by the President with the Senate’s approval. Several of
these officers belong to the party out of power.
Appointment terms of members are staggered and these
members may be removed by the President only for
reasons specified by Congress.
c. Congress has given them the power to administer the
programs for which they are created.
d. These regulatory bodies have powers of all three basic –
executive, legislative, and judicial.
e. Rethinking Regulation – several authorities have urged
that at least the administrative functions of these
commissions be given to executive department agencies.
They are concerned that some of the independent
regulatory commissions may have been captured by special
interest groups.
The Government Corporations
a. Corporations within the executive branch subject to the President’s
direction and control, set up by Congress to carry out business-like
b. 50 of these – Postal Service, etc.
c. Government v. Private Corporations
i. Government corporations are typically set up like a corporation in
the private sector. Differences include: Congress decided their
purpose and functions; they are financed by public funds which are
appropriated by Congress
d. Degrees of Independence
i. Varies greatly; some are attached to an executive department but
some have a lot of independence
The Civil Service – composed of those civilian employees
who perform the administrative work of government. More
than 2.7 million people work for the Federal government
Development of the Civil Service
a. The Spoils System
i. Andrew Jackson is known as the “father” of the Spoils System –
the practice of giving offices and the other favors of government
to political supporters and their friends. This is also called
ii. Jackson defended this policy – the duties are simple, any normal
intelligent person can fill an office; there should be a “rotation of
office” so that many people have the privilege; long service can
lead to tyranny and inefficiency; people are entitled to have the
party that they have placed in power placed in power control of all
offices of government
a. The Movement to Reform
i. In 1881, President James Garfield was shot by a man who
he had rejected to a high diplomatic post for being mentally
b. The Pendleton Act
i. Laid the foundation of the present federal civil service
ii.It was intended to make merit the basis for hiring,
promotion, and other personnel actions in the federal work
iii.Two categories – classified (to be based on merit) and
The Civil Service Today – today, most federal employees are
hired through a competitive process
a. The Office of Personnel Management – the Federal
government’s personnel agency. It advertises for
employees, examines those who apply, and keeps registers
(lists of applicants)
b. Pay and Benefits – Although women and minorities are
well represented among agencies, they tend to be
concentrated in lower-level positions.
Political Activities
a. Hatch Act of 1939 – the law allows federal workers to
vote in elections but forbids them to take part in partisan
political activities
b. Federal Employees Political Activities Act of 1993 –
relaxed these restrictions; today, a federal employee has
the right to vote, help register new voters, contribute
money to candidates and parties, participate in campaigns,
and hold office in a political party

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