The Federal Bureaucracy Notes | Federal Government Of The United States | Government Agencies

Uniquenesses of the US Federal Bureaucracy I.

“Two-Masters” Syndrome  In most western democracies, bureaucrats report only to specific ministers  US bureaucrats report to both Congress and the Executive Branch  Bureaucrats play one branch off the other II. The Federal System  Some federal bureaucracies deal directly with US citizens (ie. post office, IRS)  Many federal agencies work through similar bureaucracies at the state or local level  Money is disbursed through grants or revenue sharing o Medicaid: Poverty aid paid by state III. “Adversary Culture”  Americans like to sue  Much of the time spent by federal agencies is defending their actions against civil law suits  Very different from Europe where decision go largely unchallenged IV. Regulations v. Operation  Americans also like capitalism  Compared to other western democracies, the US government operates very few companies  Federal agencies are tasked more with regulating private owned firms Who works for the Federal Bureaucracy? Reforming Employment  Two significant acts attempted to reform the civil service system: o Pendleton Act (1883): government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit, not just political affiliation, and once assigned, a person cannot be fired on the basis of political affiliation o Hatch Act (1939): executive branch employees may not engage in partisan political activities Recruiting and Retaining Today  Many federal positions in the civil service are part of the competitive service  The exam used to be a general examination  Increasing need for specialists within the competitive service Non-Competitive Jobs  3% of federal service is an exempted service  Presidential Appointments – cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, heads of federal agencies, judges, US attorneys  Schedule C Appointments – confidential or policy-determining positions  Non-career Executive Assignments – high level positions that work as advisors or policy makers for a presidential administration; tend to come from former competitive service in the private sector  Positions tend to be name-request jobs

confirmed by Senate  Perform a regulatory role over private industry  Have discretionary authority to make policies not spelled out in law  E. Post Office Functions of the Federal Bureaucracy 1. EPA. Regulation – issue rules and regulations that impact the public (ex: EPA air standards) a. confirmed by Senate  Given a specific mandate and generally perform a service function. CIA Independent Regulatory Commissions – 2000+ (Divisions. not a regulatory one  E. Bureaus. SSA. confirmed by Senate  Heavily subsidized  E. contentious and challenged (adversary culture) .g. executive orders of the President 2. Laws can be vague and Congress does not have time to vote on every day-to-day decision ii. Administration – routine administrative work. Often times. Implementation – carry out laws of Congress. bureaucrats tend to become very territorial and take on an agency’s point of view o Unwilling to see their positions or budgets cut o Suspicious of new management o Can sabotage their superiors Four Agencies of the Federal Bureaucracies The Cabinet – 15 Departments  Advisory group to the President  Help execute laws and assist in decision making  Last established – Homeland Security Independent Executive Agencies – 200+  Established by Congress with separate status outside the executive branch  Have their own budget set by Congress  Heads must by appointed by President. Some power to set policy is devolved onto the bureaucracy iii. FCC. NASA.g. FDA Government Corporations  Industries or services run wholly by the federal government  Heads appointed by president. Departments)  Heads appointed by President. provide services established by congressional act 3. Discretionary authority: i.g. it is very hard to fire a bureaucrat  Easier to force out by reassigning them or reducing their responsibilities  Once hired.Problems with Retention  Once hired or appointed.

via lobby  low regulation. An appropriations bill must be drafted that details how the authorized money must be spent President Supervises the Bureaucracy and can:  Appoint and remove agency heads  Reorganize the bureaucracy  Issue executive orders  Request a reduction or zeroing out of an agency’s budget Federal Courts checks the bureaucracy and can:  Judicial review  Provide due process for individuals affected by bureaucratic action Interest groups influence he bureaucracy and can:  Help or hurt agencies’ chances of receiving funding  Provide statistics and professional expertise  Rally support or opposition to agency policies The Iron Triangle Congress ^ electoral support through campaign contribution ^ policy choices & execution v friendly legislation & oversight v funding and political support Interest Groups Bureaucracy  congressional support.Congressional Oversight of the Federal Bureaucracy  Pass legislation that alters an agency’s functions  Investigate agency activities  Hold committee hearings  Influence or even fail to confirm presidential appointments The Authorization/Appropriation Process  Congress’ most important check over the federal bureaucracy is the two-part authorization/appropriation process o Authorization – legislation to create or renew an agency begins in Congress and a related committee approves the maximum amount of money an agency may spend  Starts in House b/c power of the purse o Appropriations – most money set aside for an agency must be specifically appropriated through the House Appropriations committee. special favors .

one which includes 535 members o Easier to add than subtract services o Little incentive to cut costs Attempts to Reform the Bureaucracy o Attempts have been made to reform the bureaucracy starting with the selection and hiring of bureaucrats  Pendleton Act (1883)  Hatch Act (1939) o Focus traditionally on three areas  Centralizing power in the executive branch  Reducing the size of government  Improving efficiency National Performance Review (1993) o Shifted the focus of improving the bureaucracy to a constituent experience-based approach o Suggestions from the NPR  Decentralize management decisions  Reduce red tape and specific regulations  Increased emphasis on taxpayer satisfaction    .Pathologies and Reform   Growth of size of bureaucracy since 1940 due to WWII (defense department/civilian employees Bureaucratic Pathologies o Red Tape: complexity and inefficiency in trying to get something done o Conflict: caused when tow agencies work at cross-purposes o Duplication: when a governmental task is repeated by two or more agencies o Imperialism: growth in the federal government without any perceived benefit in quality of service o Waste: tendency for the federal government to pay above market prices for materials and contracted work Why do these problems exist? o Need for uniformity across a large country o Responding to the needs of two branches.

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