The Federal Bureaucracy

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  • The Federal Bureaucracy
    • Components
      • The federal bureaucracy grew during the 20th century – as the size of the federal government expanded – was brought about by a number of developments. 
      • -The federal bureaucracy is the administrative system of the nation government that carries out policy – also an over excessive red tape, delay, over-manning, inefficiency and waste. 
      • -By 2006 – it had 2,720, 688 civilian employees – these employees aren’t all in Washington – only 11% of federal civil servants work in Washington. 
      • -The federal bureaucracy is spread throughout the country – almost every city has a headquarters. 
      • -the federal bureaucracy can be split into four broad categories – executive departments (there are 15), executive agencies, independent regulatory agencies and government corporations. 
    • Functions
      • Creating rules
        • -legislators usually only establish the broad principles of policy – it is left to the federal bureaucracy to write the specific rules that decide how laws will be executed. 
        • -The growing complexity of society had led to the greater need for specialist bureaucrats to create specific rules – it is in this function that the regulatory commissions of the federal government play a significant role. 
      • Adjudication
        • executing laws and carrying out rules – disputes will arise
        • -One party will consider that a law is not being applied enough, while the other will consider that it needs to be applied more or isn’t being done fairly. 
          • -It is therefore the job of the federal bureaucracy to adjudicate in such disputes. 
    • Cons
      • Clientelism
        • -agencies tend to sever the interests of those who they are suppose to be overseeing. 
          • -This is seen as a particular problem with the regulatory commissions – these are watchdog agencies but often turn into lapdogs – special interests are protected at the expense of public interest.
      • Imperialism
        • agencies want to expend their powers and responsibilities and will do this at the expense of other agencies
          • -Political interest will become dominant, sometimes regardless of public opinion. 
        • -Imperialism sometimes manifests itself in ‘turf battles’ – who has jurisdiction over which policy area. 
      • Parochialism
        • -agencies will tend to focus on their own goals rather than the ‘big picture’ – or on the administration as a whole. 
          • -Department interest usually gets priority at the expense of the nation interest. 
      • Instrumentalism
        • -most of the agencies in the federal bureaucracy act slowly and cautiously – not liking change. 
          • -This can be frustrating for a new president who wants to introduce radical policy change. 
          • -They are seen as very conservative and too resistant to change. 
      • Arbitrariness
        • -when applying rules and regulations – the concerns and merits of those who will be effected are often ignored. 
        • -The bureaucracy is often seen as inhuman and over-committed to the form and process. 
      • Waste
        • -their size and dedication to routine often mean that they use resources less efficiently than private sector organisations. 
        • e.g. $16 for  muffin, very high salaries despite recession
      • Iron triangles
        • -this is the strong relationship between three bodies; special interests (usually pressure groups), the relevant congressional committee and the relevant agency. 
          • -This can often result in policies being made and executed to the mutual benefit of those three bodies – excluding public interest. – this had a negative effect on the process. 
            • -Eg. defence contractors, the House and Senate Armed services Committees and the Defence Department – this iron triangle resulted in a large national defence budget.
      • Going native
        • -There is always a fear in the White House that political appointees in the federal bureaucracy ‘going native’  this means that rather than imposing the president’s wishes they start to resist his changes. 
      • Inefficiency
        • -this is a widespread belief – many think this is largely because the pay of a civil servant is determined more by length of service than the quality of their work. 
          • -Eg. this is shown clearly in the response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005. 
    • Pros
      • Act as a check on the President
        • If departments went along with the President rather than fighting their corner, then the country would change massively every four to eight years


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