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Bureaucracy Student Learning Goals 2 M-2 Q
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 squares • Bureaucracy = “government of small desks”
Max Weber • Famous early 20 th century economist, German • Bureaucracy – well organized, complex machine that is a “rational” way for society to organize its business
Weber 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
Weber • Merit principle – hiring and promotion based on qualities, no jobs for favors • Impersonality – performance judged on productivity
Weber Quotes • “Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of material and personal costs - these are raised to the optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration. ” – Max Weber • “Only by strict specialization can the scientific worker become fully conscious, for once and perhaps never again in his lifetime, that he has achieved something that will endure. A really definitive and good accomplishment is today always a specialized act. ” – Max Weber
Modern Bureaucracy • 1932 -1945 – New Deal, WWII, increase in programs and gov’t work • 1950’s – 1970’s – 90% of all federal employees were chosen on merit • Salaries also chosen on merit
Who are bureaucrats? • Approximately 1 out of 100 Americans work for the federal government bureaucracy • A few examples – – – – – US Postal Service EPA IRS Amtrak Corporation for Public Broadcasting Interstate Commerce Commission Federal Trade Commission Securities and Exchange Commission National Aeronautics and Space Administration US Military
The “Cabinet” • 15 cabinet departments oversee specific areas of the bureaucracy • Each department is organized somewhat differently • Real work of a department usually is done in the bureaus (sometimes called services, offices, or administrations). • All cabinet heads go by the title “Secretary” except the Dept. of Justice – “Attorney General” • Many undersecretaries and assistants
Independent Regulatory Agencies • Regulate important parts of the economy, making rules for large industries and businesses that affect the interests of the public. • Are “watchdogs” - need to operate independently & not part of a department • Most not directly controlled by the President. • FCC (Federal Communications Commission); SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission); The FED (Federal Reserve Board)
Government Corporations • Are a blend of private corporation and government agency. • Created to allow more freedom and flexibility than exists in regular government agencies. • Have more control over their budgets, and often have the right to decide how to use their own earnings. • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, US Postal Service, Amtrak, Tennessee Valley Authority
Independent Executive Agencies • Agencies that do not fall into the first three categories are called independent executive agencies. • Independent agencies closely resemble Cabinet departments, but they are smaller and less complex. • Generally, they have narrower areas of responsibility than do cabinet departments. • NASA, NSF (National Science Foundation)
What do bureaucrats do? • Discretionary action – have the power to execute laws and policies passed down by the president or congress – they make laws happen. • Implementation – develop procedures and rules for reaching the goal of a new policy – they decide what or how the law will happen. • Regulation – check or oversee private or corporate business activity – Munn v. Illinois (1877) – SCOTUS upheld that government had the right to regulate business rates and services if it was for the “greater good” – ADA compliancy – is your building handicapped accessible?
Accountability • Bureaucracy is constrained and controlled by the US government numerous ways • Congress – appropriates money (approves it - allocates it) – authorizes the spending of money (spends it) – oversees agency activity (investigates them and holds them accountable for carrying out laws) – advice and consent of presidential appointees (Senate approves nominations)
Accountability • Bureaucracy is constrained and controlled by the US government numerous ways • President – job appointments (WH staff– no senate approval; outside WH – senate approval) – executive orders – budget control – Reorganize, merge or create agencies (Bush. Homeland Security)
Controlling the Bureaucracy • Patronage - Rewarding supporters with jobs • “Spoils system” – created by Andrew Jackson, each President turned over the bureaucracy • Pendleton Act (1883) - Created in response to criticism of patronage, more jobs will be selected based on merit (Garfield Assassination) • Hatch Act (1939) – gov’t agency employees can’t participate in political activities (elections, campaigns, fund raisers, etc. ) – Softened in recent decades, 1 st Amendment issues (freedom of speech, assembly/association)
Iron Triangles CONGRESS INTEREST GROUPS BUREAUCRACY Iron Triangle - three-way alliance among legislators, bureaucrats, and interest groups to make or preserve policies that benefit their respective interests
How it works? • Everyone in the triangle has a similar interest • Legislators get funding from interest groups and make laws reality with the help of the bureaucracy • Interest groups provide valued information to bureaucracy and money to legislators • Bureau chiefs & bureaucracy implement legislative policy and interest group goals
Why are they “iron”? • Strong – bond can’t be broken by President or Congress • AKA - “sub governments, ” all the real decisions are made among these 3 groups • Might maintain interests that might not be publicly popular… like what? • Let’s talk tobacco!
Example – Why is tobacco not illegal? House and Senate agricultural subcommittees Tobacco farmer interest groups (tobacco lobby) And Big Tobacco companies Department of Agriculture ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms)
Why is tobacco legal? • House and Senate representatives, sympathetic to tobacco, receive campaign funds and support from pro -tobacco interest groups • Elected officials make sure that tobacco farmers and cigarette companies interests are defended through favorable laws • Dept. of Ag. & ATF execute (translate/carry out) the legislation while relying on $ Congressional budget. • Interest groups provide the Dept. of Ag. & ATF with valuable information to effectively execute laws. • COMMON INTEREST – Keep tobacco alive = keep jobs alive!!!
Other Iron Triangle Example
Issue Network • More complicated connection exists • Iron triangle too simple – there are IGs from opposite sides of an issue who compete • Issue Network – complex group (includes media and university/research institutions) that debates an issue and slows policy-making • Policy-making is not as smooth with competing demands from IG’s (EX: pro vs. anti tobacco) • President can appoint an agency head who steers policy, but can never smoothly control policy – think Pluralist theory here
Criticism of Bureaucracy • “Red tape” – maze of gov. rules, regulations, and paperwork that makes gov. overwhelming to citizens • Conflict – agencies that often work toward opposite goals (EPA vs. Department of Energy; FDA vs. Dept. of Ag. /tobacco farmers) • Duplication – multiple agencies appear to do the same thing (farm raised salmon vs. wild caught salmon) • Unchecked growth – agencies expand unnecessarily at high costs • Waste – spending more than necessary (lots of September end of fiscal year expenditures – use $ or lose it) • Lack of accountability – difficult in firing an incompetent bureaucrat • Contradictory hiring practices – Affirmative Action promotes the hiring and promotion of people based on race/gender AND talent. Civil service system is solely based on merit/talent. Does the most talented person always get promoted?
• Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=Iqhl. Qf XUk 7 w • Futurama’s Hermes “Bureaucrat Song” • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=QYQ 4 u. V 8 NDJo
One view of bureaucracy…