The Federal Bureaucracy - MCPAPUSGovernmentandPolitics

Advanced Placement®
American Government and Politics
Unit VI – The Presidency (13) and
The Federal Bureaucracy (15)
Part 2 – The Federal Bureaucracy
The Federal Bureaucracy
Large, complex organization of appointed, not
elected, officials
• “bureau” – French for
small desks, referring to
the king’s traveling
business men who set up
small desks in town
• Bureaucracy = “government of small desks”
The Federal Bureaucracy
Max Weber
• Famous early 20th
century German
• Bureaucracy – well
organized, complex
machine that is a “rational”
way for society to organize its business
The Federal Bureaucracy
Max Weber Bureaucracy Characteristics
• Hierarchical authority structure – chain of command
• Task specialization –
individuals have unique
jobs, division of labor
• Extensive rules – clear
policies for the
organization to follow
• Clear goals – clearly
defined mission
The Department of Motor
• Merit principle – hiring
Vehicles; a good example of
and promotion based on
qualities, no jobs for favors
• Impersonality – performance judged on productivity
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
The Growth of The Federal Bureaucracy
The Federal Bureaucracy has only one task—
to faithfully execute all the laws
The Framers believed that the bureaucracy would
be relatively small and left most of the details up to
the president and Congress
The Growth of The Federal Bureaucracy
The Spoils System
• Federal bureaucracy
was originally drawn from
an elite group of upper-class
white males
• Proclaiming “to the victor
belongs the spoils,” Andrew
Jackson awarded federal
posts to party loyalists
• Known as patronage
The Growth of The Federal Bureaucracy
The Civil Service
• The Pendleton Act (1883)
created the federal civil service
• Civil Service system -workers are selected
according to merit, not party loyalty
• The 0ffice of
Personnel Management (OPM)
• Administers civil service laws
and regulations
• Is in charge of hiring for most
federal agencies
The Growth of The Federal Bureaucracy
Effects of Civil Service Reform
Govt. employees are much more competent
Creating nonpartisan civil service means insulating
workers from risk of being fired when new party comes
into power; this means it’s pretty hard to fire anyone
Hatch Act (written 1939; renewed 1993): employees are
prohibited from active participation in partisan politics
The Growth of The Federal Bureaucracy
Why? Society has become increasingly complex
• Science and technology
• (NASA) is an example
• Business regulation
• think -- The Jungle
• Social welfare
• Civil War (veteran pensions)
• Great Depression
• income security and social services to
Americans in need
• Ambitious administrators
• top agency officials look for new ways to
serve clients, which in turn leads to new
programs, larger staffs, and larger budgets
The Growth of The Federal Bureaucracy
• Typical govt. bureau can’t hire, fire, build, or sell w/o
going through statutory procedures
• Administrative Procedures Act (1946): agency must
give notice, solicit feedback, hold hearing before
adopting new rule/policy
• Freedom of Information Act (1966): agency must allow
all citizens to inspect their records
• National Environmental Policy Act (1969): agencies
must issue environ. impact statements
• Privacy Act (1974): keeps citizens’ records confidential
• Open Meeting Law (1976): all parts of all meetings
must be open to public
• Biggest constraint: Congress rarely gives any single job
to any single agency
Federal and State Employees
The federal bureaucracy includes all of the agencies,
people, and procedures through which the federal
government operates
• There are
approximately 2.7
million civilian and
1.4 million military
federal employees
• Half of all the
civilian federal
I believe you have my stapler.
employees work
for the department of defense and an additional
28 percent work for the postal service
Federal and State Employees
• Federal government employees currently account
for 3 percent of all civilian jobs
• Number of federal government employees has
remained constant since 1950
• The number for state and local government
employees has steadily increased since 1950
• Block grants have contributed to the widening
gap between the number of federal and state
employees by shifting resources from the
federal government to state and local
• Federal mandates have also shifted more
responsibility to states, causing an increase in
the number of their public employees
Not So Big by Comparison
The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization
and Key Functions
Cabinet Departments
• There are 15 cabinet departments
• Exception of Justice (headed by the Attorney
General), each department is headed by a
• All 15 heads are chosen by the president and
approved by the Senate
• Treasury Department has authority over the
printing of currency
• Cabinet secretaries often develop a strong loyalty
to their departments
• Cabinet members are often not close
presidential advisors
The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization
and Key Functions
Independent Regulatory Agencies
• Created to protect the public by regulating key
sectors of the economy
• Best known independent regulatory agencies
• Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)
• Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
• National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
• Federal Reserve Board (FRB)
• Independent regulatory agencies are led by small
commissions appointed by the president and
confirmed by the Senate
• Note commissioners cannot be removed by
the Senate during their terms of office
The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization
and Key Functions
The Federal Reserve Board
Federal Reserve Board’s Primary responsibility is to
set monetary policy
• Monetary policy includes setting bank interest
rates, controlling inflation, regulating the money
supply, and adjusting bank reserve requirements
Federal Reserve Board has great independence
• This freedom removes monetary policy from
• As a result, the Federal Reserve Board is
usually able to use its economic expertise to
develop monetary policies without undue
interference from political parties and interest
The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization
and Key Functions
The Government Corporations
• Government corporations provide a service that
could be provided by the private sector
• Best Known -• Corporation for Public Broadcasting
• Tennessee Valley Authority
• Amtrak
• U.S. Postal Service
The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization
and Key Functions
Independent Executive Agencies
• Independent Executive Agencies include most of
the non-cabinet departments
• Examples –
• National Aeronautics
and Space
Administration (NASA)
• Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA)
Implementation and Regulation
• Implementation is translation of policy goals
into rules and standard operating procedures
• Break down
• conflicting goals
• faulty program design
• lack financial resources
• fragmentation of responsibilities
• 46 agencies for counterterrorism ==
Office of Homeland Security (2001)
• Congress provides federal agencies with general
• Discretion to set specific guidelines for a
given problem or situation
Implementation and Regulation
• Regulation is the use of governmental authority
to control or change practices in the private
• Supreme Court first upheld the right of
government to regulate businesses in Munn v.
Illinois (1877)
• Reagan / Bush1 federal government deregulated
or lifted a number of restrictions
on business
• Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB)
Implementation and Regulation
Regulation v. Deregulation
• Conservatives say: regulation has become too
burdensome, inhibits business, personal freedom
• Regulation raises prices!
• Regulation hurts our competitiveness overseas!
• Regulation doesn’t always work; gov’t can be
• Liberals say: regulation is vital to prevent abuse,
corruption, public fraud
• There is often environmental damage due to
• Remember the savings and loan bailout, mid1980s? Deregulation caused that!
• Remember the financial meltdown of 2009?
The President and The Bureaucracy
• Presidents have power to appoint senior agency
heads and subheads
• Enables president to exercise influence over
an agency
• President’s power limited
• Senate has power to approve president’s
• Agency heads often develop a strong loyalty
to their departments / do not aggressively
purse a president’s policy agenda
The President and The Bureaucracy
Executive Orders
• Directive, order, or regulation issued by
• Based on constitutional or statutory authority
and have force of law
• 9066 -- Interment
Economic Powers
• President may use Office of Management and
Budget to cut or add to an agency’s budget
• REMEMBER -- Congress has the sole power to
appropriate funds to an agency
Congress and the Bureaucracy
Divided Authority
• Divided supervision in which both president /
Congress exercise authority over the federal
• Creates checks and balances while at the
same time often encouraging agencies to play
one branch of government against the other
• Defense appropriations
Congress and the Bureaucracy
• Congress responsibility to exercise legislative
oversight over the federal bureaucracy
• Oversight methods:
• Budgetary control
• Holding hearings and conducting
• Reorganizing an agency
• Setting new guidelines for an agency
Interest Groups and The Bureaucracy
Iron Triangles
• Alliance among an administrative agency, an
interest group, and a congressional committee to
make or preserve policies that benefit their
respective interests
• Each member provides key services,
information, or policy for the others
• So pervasive and powerful often called
Interest Groups and The Bureaucracy
Issue Networks
• Coalition of interest groups and people who join
together to advocate for a specific problem and
for changing a government policy that pertains to
that problem
• Alliances created through an issue network make
it possible for people to join together on their
issue to create change in government policies
that pertain to that issue
Interest Groups and The Bureaucracy
Issue Networks
• Members of issue networks usually are political
executives, government officials, public servants,
scholarly analysts, reporters, members of
foundations and White House staff members
• Need for different professions is essential for an
issue network to function, because many types
of expertise are needed to change existing policy

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