Bureaucracy –a large, complex organization composed of appointed officials
Unique Characteristics of US
Political authority over bureaucracy is shared among several institutions.
Parliament has little influence over UK bureaucracy
Both President and Congress have control in US
Every senior appointed official has at least two masters: one in the executive branch and one in the legislative
The ramifications of federalism: most federal agencies share responsibilities with state and local ones
Some deal directly (FBI, USPS, IRS), most give money to local governments
This gives local governments much control
Most of this overlap from these departments is due to a liberal interpretation of the commerce clause
Court challenges and public opinion
Litigation is very common in US.
Virtually all major bureaucratic policies are likely to be challenged in the courts
While US is not very socialized, it does regulate the private sector to a degree uncommon in most nations
The Bureaucracy over time
Constitution didn’t have very many provisions; 1789, madison created Department of State
President could, alone, remove his subordinates: reason was that this was the only way he could realistically control them
Still, president doesn’t have all the power
1816-1861, number of employees increased 8x
result of growth from increased demands on traditional functions
Civil war caused the need of many new bureaucrats
Industrial growth placed strain on state resources, hence fed picked up the slack.
200,000 added from 1861 to 1901
Pension office, DoAgriculture, DoLabor, DoCommerce, National bureau of standards,
Role was TO SERVE, not TO REGULATE
Interstate Commerce Commission (1887) was the first to regulate – people still liked the (kick-ass) idea of laissez-faire
Even though congress technically regulated trade, it couldn’t do everything
Everything grew during WWI, WWII, etc.
Tough for presidents to appease most people
Throughout most of 19th and 20th centuries was dominant, hence it controlled appointments
Since congress was representationally thinking, we ended up with spoils system
A New Role
Today, bureaucracy is mostly the result of Great Depression and WWII
Government was now expected to play an active role in dealing with economic and social problems.
WWII saw heavy dependence and use on Federal income Taxes
Even though number of actual governmental workers hasn’t increased much, the number of those who work indirectly has increased.
Power depends on the extent to which appointed authorities have discretionary authorities
Factors that explain behavior
Recruitment and Retention
Competitive service: individuals are required to pass written Office Of Personal test, or meet certain written requirements
Only 56% are part of it today, because system is so decentralized
FAA, Postal Service, CIA, FBI have agency-specific criteria
Has become much more diverse occupationally, scientists, lawyers, etc.
Patronage availability: Statue, Schedule-C jobs [with a policy-determining character]
Pendleton Act (1883) began end of spoils system
Buddy system / Name-request job: one filled by a person who the agency has already identified
Way of hiring those who are known to the organization to be competent
Buddy System: creating a job, and designing the qualifications for a certain person
Firing a bureaucrat
Elaborate steps are required
Thus, no one is fired without much effort
.01% of workers were fired last year
Those in activist agencies have more liberal views than those in traditional ones
General policy views reflect the type of government work they do
Typical government bureau cannot hire, fire, build, or sell without going through procedures set down in laws.
Administrative procedure act: agency must give notice, solicit feedback, hold hearings before adopting a new rule or policy.
Freedom of information act: agency must allow all citizens to inspect its records
National enviornmental policy act: agencies must issue environmental impact statements
Privacy act: keep citizen’s records confidential
Open meeting law: all parts of all meetings must be open ot the public
Biggest constraint: congress rarely gives any single job to any single agency
Effects of constraints:
Government is slow
Government is inconsistent
It’s easier to block than to take action
Low-ranking employees are reluctant to make decisions on their own
Citizens complain of red tape
The Iron Triangle
The relationship between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group.
Are less common today.
Reductions in budgets are difficult to pass (the bureaucrats will be called to testify about what the budget should be – they won’t want to eliminate their own jobs)
The interest groups which come to the defense of whatever agency make it very hard to eliminate.
The members of congress themselves – they don’t want to give up power by eliminating those things over which they have power.
No agency can exist without congressional creation
No money can be spent without authorization from congress (authorization legislation)
No money can be spent unless it has also been appropriated (appropriation legislation)
Amount is often less than the amount authorized
Loss of power for the apporpriations committees
Via Trust funds
Shifts to annual authorizations
Attempts to keep spending down
Red tape: too many rules
Conflict: agencies work at cross purposes
Duplication: two governmental agencies due the same thing
Imperialism: agencies grow without limit or care
Waste: spending more than necessary
The power of the bureaucracy
Why do we have so much law but congress has passed so little? Because congress passes laws like "part of education shall help oversee and ensure quality education for all citizens of the united states and shall write reasonable rules and regulations to make this happen"
Other part of Wickard v. Filburn
Quotas were actually written up by the department of Agriculture
Filburn was partly arguing that you cannot have an agency of the executive essentially making a law
Supreme Court said that there is so much that needs to be done, that congress cannot possibly do it all, therefore it may give the authority to the executive branch
1998-1999 AP American Government Notes
This material copyright Eric Jonas, 1999.
These notes have been taken from American Government, 7th edition, by Wilson and DiIulio, and from in-class lecture by Mr. Greg Sandmeyer at Timberline High School.