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Dr Simon Boucher ~ The Federal Bureaucracy Government and Politics of the USA Week 2 HT:

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1 Dr Simon Boucher ~ The Federal Bureaucracy Government and Politics of the USA Week 2 HT:

2 Required reading… McKay chap 11 Singh chap 11 Additional resources… James Q Wilson- Bureaucracy, What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It (LEN 353 N91) David Osborne and Ted Gaebler- Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector (ARTS 353 N37) Readings on the Federal Bureaucracy

3 Agenda Constitutional basis Purpose Scale, management, recruitment Public attitudes towards the Federal Bureaucracy Accountability Iron triangles and issue networks Reform of the Federal Bureaucracy

4 Separation of power in US Federal Govt FEDERAL GOVERNMENT Federal Bureaucracy

5 Federal / state bureaucracy never specifically mentioned in the Constitution, however several articles relevant: –Article 1: Congress creates agencies, assigns funds and responsibilities –Article 2: President directs agencies and selects leaders –Article 3: Judiciary adjudicates claims against agencies Each branch exercises considerable control over the federal bureaucracy, but none is the indisputable master Constitutional Basis

6 A little bit of everything… Executive: Executes the law Legislative: Writes regulations Judicial: Adjudicates regulatory disputes …Organises American government Purpose of the Federal Bureaucracy

7 Departments led by secretaries, appointed by President and confirmed by the Senate –Secretaries develop departmental policy and administrate operations –Secretaries of “executive” departments attend cabinet Department have own culture, interests and constituencies Departments vary widely in size –DoD = 3m between civil servants and military –DoE = 5,000 civil servants Departments are complex; exhibit strong internal competition Most work done at regional / local levels Management of Federal Bureaucracy

8 Comprises the “Executive Office of the President” plus 15 executive departments Other than the EOP, all components are created by legislation The Federal Bureaucracy is largest employer in the US: –Over 4 million employees –Over 1,000 civilian agencies –Over 50 “independent establishments” and government corporations –Additional services outsourced to private sector providers Ongoing departmental rationalisation and addition over time Scale of US Federal Bureaucracy The Federal Bureaucracy has been created piecemeal over 200 years- there is no “master plan”

9 DepartmentCreated2007 BudgetEmployees State1789$9.96 Bn30,266 Treasury1789$11.10 Bn115,897 Defense 1947 $ Bn3,000,000 Justice1870$23.40 Bn112,557 Interior1849$10.70 Bn71,436 Agriculture1889$77.60 Bn109,832 Commerce1903$6.20 Bn36,000 Labor1913$59.70 Bn17,347 Health and Human Services 1953 $ Bn67,000 Housing and Urban Development1965$46.20 Bn10,600 Transportation1966$58.00 Bn58,622 Energy1977$21.50 Bn116,100 Education1979$62.80 Bn4,487 Veterans Affairs1989$73.20 Bn235,000 Homeland Security2003$44.6 Bn208, Totals:$1, Bn4,193,144 Scale of US Federal Bureaucracy

10 15,000 “job skills” in the bureaucracy: from typists to nuclear physicists Key distinction between: –Competitive service –Excepted service- including Senior Executive Service and political appointees Increasingly white collar; state and local levels employ most lower grade staff Good jobs, but low prestige Recruitment to the Federal Bureaucracy

11 What do YOU think of the civil service? Inefficient? Expensive? Wasteful? Overpaid? Simply corrupt?... Americans feel the same way! Popular Views of Public Bureaucracy Why is the federal bureaucracy so unpopular? Can it really be that bad??

12 Popular Views of Public Bureaucracy They steal your money… … They don’t do anything

13 US government is not comparatively inefficient US government is not comparatively big Why are US Bureaucrats so Unpopular? US political culture / tradition Great expectations US Congress’ committee system Openness of the US system Proliferation of centres of power BUT

14 Is the US public service particularly unaccountable? Traditional political theory assumes administrators have little independence or discretion However all bureaucrats do have certain powers –Information asymmetry –Clientelism US bureaucrats have additional power –Enjoy comparative autonomy from the centre –Iron triangles Accountability of Services

15 President appoints secretary and top administrators President decides budget EOP considerable involvement in politically sensitive services However politicians often want insulation from tough decisions services have to make Services can develop “symbiotic relationships” with clients Independence of Services How independent are “independent services”?

16 Special interest Congressional sub committee Administrative bureau Iron Triangles Concept: iron triangles dominant actors in US politics? Critique: Less prominent in redistributive domestic policies and some regulatory policies

17 Issue Networks (Hugh Heclo) GOVT PROGRAMME lobby Interest lobby Interest

18 All political actors, including officials, seek to maximise self interest (public choice theory) Therefore officials naturally seek to maximise budgets, win status, influence, etc The “principal-agent” challenge: how can officials’ performance be measured and behaviour be constantly overseen? Privatise public services Alter officials’ incentives Solving Bureaucratic Problems Understanding the Problem Potential Solutions

19 Easy answers: –Reduce and reorganise the bureaucracy –Eliminate waste and fraud Real issues: –Address complexity –Reduce autonomy & increase oversight Challenges: –Congress rejects measures that alter its system –Committees want to preserve their power & autonomy –Executive branch reluctant to privatise Other options: –Seize control of the executive through appointments –“Reinvent government” The Challenge of Reform

20 Next Week… US Political Parties McKay chap 5 Singh chap 5 LGS chap 11 Guest speaker- Liv Gibbons (DNC) Come prepared!


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