Shea chapter 8


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  • The economic crisis that began in 2008 affected many struggling homeowners and led people to look for help from the government. In such a vast country with so many people and problems, is it possible for government agencies to administer programs efficiently and effectively?
  • Should "bureaucracy" be considered a dirty word? Author Christopher E. Smith examines a familiar scenario for most Americans—standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles—and he illustrates how that experience can unfairly color our perception of how bureaucracy does (or does not) work.
    TO THE INSTRUCTOR: To access the videos in this chapter, please enter your Pearson or MyPoliSciLab username and password after clicking on the link on the slide.
  • What does the bureaucracy do? What is its role in our democracy? In this video, you will listen to what people think about bureaucrats and the job they do. You will also learn why the bureaucracy can have such a big impact on your life.
  • The financial crisis of 2008, which sent the United State into a grave financial decline, was triggered by reckless mortgage practices that convinced many Americans to borrow more than they could afford. Many ended up losing their homes in foreclosures when jobs disappeared and housing values declined.
    In response, President Barack Obama pushed for increased regulation of banks, investment companies, and mortgage companies. He created a new government agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would protect individuals from unfair practices.
    This new agency is part of the federal bureaucracy. Its mission is to supervise debt collectors and credit card companies.
    In this section, we will examine the evolution of the federal organizations that collectively make up our “bureaucracy.”
  • How does the subprime mortgage issue, and the resulting spike in foreclosures, help us address the question: Is the bureaucracy an essential contributor to the success of government or a barrier to effective government? This question doesn’t just apply to the economy, but also to issues of health and the environment. In this image, you’ll see examples of pollution that affect air quality standards, which the government is responsible for creating and enforcing.
  • Bureaucracies exist in business and other contexts, but the word most often refers to government agencies and organizations whose mission lies in carrying out the laws passed by the legislative arm of the government.
    Our federal bureaucracy has its roots in the Constitution, which grants Congress the power to “lay and collect taxes,” “coin Money,” “establish Post Offices,” and other duties. It’s the president’s job to ensure those laws are carried out, and federal agencies and departments were created to do the work. Initially, the federal government only had four departments: The Department of State, the Department of War, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury.
    As urbanization, industrialization, immigration and other forces changed the shape of our country, additional organizations were added, including the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor. When the nation and its needs continued to grow, so did the federal bureaucracy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the programs like Social Security that it created especially expanded bureaucracy.
  • This chart shows the sudden growth in the size of the federal bureaucracy following the New Deal. Growth drops off again after World War II, and then climbs again during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society program.
  • During the Great Depression, FDR created the agency WPA (Works Progress Administration) to put workers to work building public service projects. Do you think such programs should be maintained now, during tough economic times?
  • Today, the federal government consists of four different types of organizations: departments, independent agencies, independent regulatory commissions, and government corporations.
    Departments generally are large organizations responsible for a broad section of policy such as education, national defense and transportation. In contrast, Independent Agencies tend to have narrower responsibilities for a specific policy area, such as the environment.
    Independent Regulatory Commissions are not under the control of the president or a department. They have a specific policy mission, such as regulating nuclear power. Their members are drawn from both political parties and are appointed in staggered terms over the course of more than one administration.
    Government Corporations, like the U.S. Postal Service, have independent boards and are supposed to run like a business.
  • This table shows us the Cabinet Departments and gives us examples of other agencies. Do you think there is a better way to organize these components of the federal bureaucracy?
  • Congress has responded to crises by creating or reorganizing departments. Following the energy crisis of 1973, when Americans waited in long lines at gas stations and paying high prices to fill up their gas-guzzling cars, Congress created the Department of Energy. It’s mission was to implement new laws regarding fuel efficiency and new sources of energy.
    When aging World War II veterans needed additional care in the 1980s, the modest Veterans Administration was elevated to a full-fledged Department with a member of the president’s Cabinet at its helm. And out of the tragedy of the September 11, 2001 attacks was created the Department of Homeland Security.
    Activity: Discuss why the Office of Homeland Security was established. Ask: To date, has the office made a positive difference in homeland security? Do you feel safer knowing that this office is operating? What should the role of the Department of Homeland Security be? How might the role of this department differ from the role the military has always played in domestic issues?
  • This photo shows President Lyndon B. Johnson visiting families at a time when he was focused on the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Has expanded action by the government actually helped to solve social problems?
  • Now let’s review the various components of the federal bureaucracy. Can you answer this question?
  • Independent agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, have narrower focus on specific issues, such as the environment.
  • In order to understand how a bureaucracy operates, it’s necessary to understand the differences between the scope, mission and authority of departments and independent agencies. Certain policy areas fall under the authority of departments, which are run by members of the president’s cabinet. In contrast, other kinds of agencies have more independence over certain policy issues, because they are not directly under the supervision of the president and Cabinet.
    And no study of our federal bureaucracy is complete without a look at political appointees and their role within the bureaucracy.
  • Are bureaucracies democratic? And if so, how are they democratic? Texas A&M University political scientist Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha tackles this question and also looks at political appointments and other important research topics associated with bureaucracies.
  • The president’s Cabinet consists of the heads of the different departments, who generally carry the title “secretary.” (The head of the Department of Justice is called the Attorney General.) The Cabinet has grown to 15 departments, as well as three agencies within the Executive Office of the President. Earlier in American history, Cabinet members had a larger role in developing policy and advising the president; now Cabinet meetings serve to report to the president on the activities of each department.
    The various departments are divided according to policy responsibility, and within each department various agencies are assigned to implement laws, keep detailed records and make decisions consistent with established rules. The Departments also vary greatly in size, from the 4,500 employees in the Department of Education, to the 772,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense, plus the 1.4 million active duty military personnel and 1.1 million in reserve units.
  • This photo shows a national park ranger, whose job includes interacting with people every day. Which agencies provide services directly to you?
  • Table 8.2 lists the 15 cabinet-level departments and some of the agencies housed in each.
  • This chart illustrates the organization of the Department of Homeland Security, and the complexity of some of the departments in the federal bureaucracy. The variety of governmental agencies are not necessarily closely connected with each other.
  • Presidential appointees who run federal departments are expected to be loyal members of the president’s team, and defend the administration’s policies and avoid public disagreements with the president. It does not mean, however, that they possess expertise in the policy area of the department they have been appointed to run. For example, critics have cited President George W. Bush’s appointment of Michael Brown as the director of FEMA as an example of an appointment that was based on political reward and not qualifications. Brown’s lack of expertise in emergency management became sadly apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
    Senators must confirm presidential appointments to the cabinet, and in general they give the president’s picks their approval without looking too closely at qualifications. There are exceptions, however, and senators seem to pay very close attention to the nominees to head the departments of State, Defense and the Treasury.
  • Why is the bureaucracy important in the policymaking process? In this video, Texas A&M University political scientist Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha talks about not only the bureaucracy and its importance at the federal level, but also the role the federal bureaucracy plays in cooperation with state and local bureaucracies.
  • Departments may get the most attention in the federal bureaucracy, but the other organizational entities do important work as well. Independent agencies tend to have a narrower focus than departments and are responsible for specific tasks, such as safeguarding the environment or mobilizing support following an emergency.
    Independent regulatory commissions, as we touched on earlier, often oversee a specific area or policy, such as consumer product safety or communications (in the form of television or cell phones). The heads of these agencies often serve staggered terms so no president can replace the entire commission upon taking office.
    Finally, there are government corporations like Amtrak and the postal service. They were created to provide key services that could be vulnerable to cutbacks if performed by profit-conscious private businesses.
  • This chart shows examples of key independent agencies, independent regulatory commissions, and government corporations.
  • Now that we’ve discussed the range of agencies and departments, can you answer this question?
  • Departments are responsible for broad policy areas. Departments support the president’s policies and offer advice. Agencies within each department implement laws and policies.
  • Although Congress makes laws and policies, bureaucratic agencies implement these laws and must often make decisions about how laws should be carried out. In this simulation, you will learn about the power and functions of the federal bureaucracy facing several challenges as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Bureaucracies can be public entities, such as a state treasury department that collects taxes and enforces tax laws, or private entities, such as a bank with different departments for mortgages, commercial loans, and checking accounts.
    In a bureaucracy, workers typically have specific tasks and responsibilities, and there are clear lines of authority in the organization’s structure of supervision and leadership. In a government agency, the title of the head person may depend on the nature of the agency and the positions defined within in it by the constitution or other federal laws. Departments are generally headed by a secretary, while independent regulatory commissions typically have a chairman.
  • People may wait in a long line for government services. What are your negative or positive experiences in dealing with bureaucracies? Have you waited in lines at the post office? How about at a registrar’s office or financial aid office?
    Public-contact offices may be similarly slow or understaffed when people seek unemployment benefits, job placement services, or subsistence benefits.
  • For most Americans, the term bureaucracy conveys an image of organizations filled with employees who push paper around on their desks all. Most feel that government agencies work too slowly and make complicated rules and forms. It probably doesn’t help this image that many employees of the federal government bureaucracy fall into either the Patronage System or into the Civil Service Service System. The Patronage System (also known as the Spoils System) rewards supporters of a successful political candidate with government jobs.
    The Civil Service System was created to protect employees from the spoils system. Employees are hired based on their qualifications and cannot be fired for their political affiliation. Critics suggest it has become too hard to fire even the most incompetent employees under this system, further enhancing the negative perception of the federal bureaucracy.
  • For all its negative perceptions, there are benefits to having a federal bureaucracy. First of all, it ensures that federal services, such as the determination of eligibility for Social Security, and the subsequent distribution of checks, are handled in a standardized manner no matter where a person lives. Employees tasked with certain jobs have expertise and experience. Plus, services run more smoothly when there are budget limits and clearly defined roles.
    The bureaucracy, through the creation of the Civil Service System we spoke about a moment ago, also eliminated the spoils system. This helped stabilize departments, and thus delivery of services to people, by ending the abrupt turnover of the rank-and-file every time someone new was elected.
  • The Hatch Act of 1939 protects by employees from being pressured to support political candidates. It lists what employees may and may not do in a political campaign. Before this act, government workers were required to work on political campaigns in order to keep their jobs.
  • Those advantages of bureaucracy we just talked about do not mean, however, that the government departments work efficiently and do their jobs well. Problems exist. As federal agencies get bigger, layers of management can cause delays in making decisions and serving the public.
    The Civil Service System make it difficult to remove workers who are not performing well. And it can take time for new initiatives to be implemented fully and well. For example, in its first years the Transportation Security Administration was not given time to screen and train employees or ensure that airports had adequate equipment.
  • This photo shows an employee of the Transportation Security Administration. How can we make sure that we have selected the best candidates to become TSA officers and have provided them with necessary training, equipment, and supervision?
  • Decentralization has been proposed as a solution to bureaucratic inefficiencies, giving greater independence and authority to regional branches of the bureaucracy. Small agencies, closer to the people they serve, would be more efficient and effective.
    Another proposal is privatization, in which private businesses are contracted to perform government services. Supporters say businesses can perform these functions more efficiently and less expensively. An example in a number of states is the privatization of prisons.
    Finally, there is the Senior Executive Service program, in which highly effective managers in one department or agency are moved to another to improve efficiency there.
    Activity: Have students outline a plan to create a new bureaucratic agency to address a specific social problem that is not currently being met by government. Be sure to think about where the agency would reside, how many employees it would need, and what budget would be necessary.
  • Now I’d like to test your recall of material we’ve just covered. Can you answer this brief question?
  • Decentralization is the reform method in which more authority is given to regional offices of a bureaucracy because they are closer and more responsive to the people.
  • Is the federal bureaucracy too big and too powerful? Real people weigh in on this question and discuss whether they feel reducing the size of the bureaucracy is worth losing the protections that those agencies provide.
  • Let’s explore the topic of big government in more depth by completing this activity. How has the size of government changed? What is the cost of big government?
  • A bureaucracy does more than deliver services. A bureaucracy influences public policy through the decisions of elites, or people with political connections, status or expertise. Pubic policy is also influenced through the day-to-day implementation of laws and regulations by lower-level personnel. Personnel includes FBI agents, forest rangers, postal workers, water-quality inspectors and others who have direct contact with the public. If these people don’t do their jobs properly, then the laws of Congress have not been implemented properly.
    We’ll speak next about how the bureaucracy affects legislation, information, regulations and quasi-judicial processes and oversight and accountability.
  • Instead of a pyramid structure, political scientists described the “iron triangle” of influence over public policy and legislation. It was a tight relationship of power among interest groups; the key committee members in Congress and their staff with authority over the issue; and the bureaucracy’s leaders and experts on that particular issue.
    Political scientists tend to agree that the triangle power structure has been replaced by “issue networks” or “policy communities.” These are larger networks of people who are involved in a particular issue, even if they don’t agree on it.
    People may change jobs or positions over the years in what has become a “revolving door” of employees moving between federal government service and interest groups or even lobbying firms. This, as you may imagine, has created some ethical concerns.
  • Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former member of Congress who started his career as a junior high school teacher, stands with President Barack Obama. Would the American public have been better served by a Secretary of the Transportation who was a transportation planner, former director of a public transit system, or otherwise had education and expertise on transportation issues?
  • Often it is the long-time employees of the federal departments and agencies who have the most in-depth knowledge of the issues and are the best predictors of the effects of proposed legislation.
    Officials in the bureaucracy provide information for Congress to use in crafting and approving statutes. But congressional reliance on bureaucratic officials for information can create problems. Sometimes presidential appointees direct subordinates to withhold or distort information in order to further the president’s agenda. This happened with cost estimates for the Medicare bill in 2004.
    Employees within the bureaucracy who stand up against such actions by providing information about this misconduct are called whistleblowers. And prior to the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, they risked being fired for speaking up.
  • Federal departments and agencies can have significant power over the development of public policy. When Congress passes a law, the language is often broad. Agencies influence public policy when they fill in the details of those broad laws with regulations, which may set standards for something like air quality, and rules, which may describe how those standards will be enforced.
    Departments and agencies may further influence public policy through hearings that resemble judicial processes. Sometimes the agency examines evidence of whether individuals or corporations are obeying the law. Other times citizens challenge a decision by an agency, and their case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge.
  • This table explains the process for applying for Social Security Disability benefits.
  • Often members of the public don’t notice the workings of members of a bureaucracy. But Congress and the president do. The president uses his political appointees to keep an eye on matters. And Congress can use its information gathering to find out what’s going on. It may signal to the agencies which direction it wants implementation of its laws to go. And of course Congress controls the budgets of the different departments and agencies that make up the bureaucracy.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson faces questions about stricter standards to limit air and water pollution. How does Congress influence the actions of federal agencies?
  • Now I’d like to test your understanding of what we’ve covered in this section by asking you to answer this brief question.
  • These larger networks, or communities, of people interested and involved in an issue have become more common in the policy-making process.
  • If you can't fight city hall, you can at least try to understand how it works. Author Christopher E. Smith weighs the pros and cons of the bureaucratic system in America, and gives tips on how to navigate it.
  • Shea chapter 8

    1. 1. 8Bureaucracy
    2. 2. Video: The Big Picture IA_1/polisci/presidency/Shea_Ch08_Bureaucracy_Seg1_v 2.html 8
    3. 3. Video: The Basics IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg2_Bureaucracy_v2.html 8
    4. 4. The Federal Bureaucracy  The Federal Bureaucracy  Organization of the Federal Bureaucracy  Changes since the 1960s 8.1
    5. 5. 8.1 Air Quality Standards
    6. 6. The Federal Bureaucracy  Development of the Federal Bureaucracy  The First Departments  The New Deal and its Aftermath  A Response to Poverty  Growth in the Federal Bureaucracy 8.1
    7. 7. FIGURE 8.1: Growth in the size of the federal bureaucracy 8.1
    8. 8. 8.1 Works Progress Administration
    9. 9. Organization of Federal Bureaucracy  Departments  Large organizations; broad policy realm  Independent Agencies  Specific policy issues  Independent Regulatory Commissions  Government Corporations 8.1
    10. 10. TABLE 8.1: Cabinet Departments and Examples of other Agencies 8.1
    11. 11. Changes since the 1960s  Department of Energy  Followed energy crisis of 1973  Department of Veterans Affairs  Aging WWII veterans needed care  Department of Homeland Security  Response to September 11, 2001 attacks 8.1
    12. 12. Lyndon B. Johnson 8.1
    13. 13. 8.1 Which organization has a narrow focus on a specific policy issue? a. Departments b. Independent Agencies c. Independent Regulatory Commissions d. Government Corporations 8.1
    14. 14. 8.1 Which organization has a narrow focus on a specific policy issue? a. Departments b. Independent Agencies c. Independent Regulatory Commissions d. Government Corporations 8.1
    15. 15. Departments and Independent Agencies  Departments  Political Appointees in the Bureaucracy  Independent Agencies, Independent Regulatory Commissions, and Government Corporations 8.2
    16. 16. Video: Thinking Like a Political Scientist IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg4_Bureaucracy_v2.html 8.2
    17. 17. Departments  The President’s Cabinet  Members are generally Department Heads  Policy divisions  Smaller agencies housed within departments  Size and Scope  Variation among Departments 8.2
    18. 18. National Park Ranger 8.2
    19. 19. TABLE 8.2: Departments in the executive branch of the federal government with selected subunits and total number of employees, 2012 8.2
    20. 20. FIGURE 8.2: Organization of the Department of Homeland Security 8.2
    21. 21. Political Appointees in the Bureaucracy  Policy Expertise  Varies among political appointees  Political Loyalty  Rewards for service to the president  Confirmation process  Cabinet heads need Senate approval 8.2
    22. 22. Video: In Context IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg3_Bureaucracy_v2.html 8.2
    23. 23.  Independent Agencies  Narrower scope and mission than departments  Independent Regulatory Commissions  More autonomy  Government Corporations  Independent boards; run like a business 8.2 Organizational Entities in the Federal Bureaucracy
    24. 24. TABLE 8.3: Examples of Independent Agencies, Independent Regulatory Commissions, and Government Corporations, by Type. 8.2
    25. 25. 8.2 Which best describes the policy realm of Departments? a. Provide a specific service in a manner similar to a private business b. Regulatory authority over a specific issue c. Broad expanse of policy area d. Narrower field of policy area 8.2
    26. 26. 8.2 Which best describes the policy realm of Departments? a. Provide a specific service in a manner similar to a private business b. Regulatory authority over a specific issue c. Broad expanse of policy area d. Narrower field of policy area 8.2
    27. 27. Explore the Simulation: You Are Head of FEMA _1/2013_mpsl_sim/simulation.html?simulaURL=9 8.2
    28. 28. The Nature of Bureaucracy  The Image of Bureaucracy  The Advantages of Government Bureaucracy  The Problems of Government Bureaucracy  The Reform of Bureaucracy 8.3
    29. 29. Waiting for government services 8.3
    30. 30. The Image of Bureaucracy  Bureaucratic “Entitlements”  Patronage System (Spoils System)  Civil Service System  “Red tape”  Negative Perception 8.3
    31. 31. The Advantages of Government Bureaucracy  Standardization and Expertise  Services handled in a consistent fashion  Accountability and Coordination  Services run more smoothly when there are budget limits and clearly defined roles  Elimination of Spoils System  Civil Service System ensures fairness and employee protections 8.3
    32. 32. TABLE 8.4: The Hatch Act of 1939 8.3
    33. 33. The Problems of Government Bureaucracy  Increases in size and scope  Citizens further removed from decision makers  Generous employee protections  Difficult to remove incompetent workers  Initiative implementation  Slow reaction times 8.3
    34. 34. TSA officers 8.3
    35. 35. Reform of the Bureaucracy  Decentralization  Greater independence given to regional offices  Privatization  Private businesses contracted to perform government services  Senior Executive Service (SES)  Outstanding leaders train others in the bureaucracy 8.3
    36. 36. 8.3 Supporters of this method of reform say smaller agencies can be more responsive. a. Privatization b. Patronage c. Civil Service System d. Decentralization 8.3
    37. 37. 8.3 Supporters of this method of reform say smaller agencies can be more responsive. a. Privatization b. Patronage c. Civil Service System d. Decentralization 8.3
    38. 38. Video: In the Real World IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg5_Bureaucracy_v2.html 8.3
    39. 39. Explore the Bureaucracy: What Puts the "Big" in Big Government? ex/pex8.html 8.3
    40. 40. The Lobbying Pathway and Policymaking  The Bureaucracy and Legislation  The Bureaucracy and Information  Regulations and Quasi-Judicial Processes  Oversight and Accountability 8.4
    41. 41. The Bureaucracy and Legislation  Iron Triangle  “Revolving Door”  Issue Networks  Also called Policy Communities 8.4
    42. 42. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with President Obama 8.4
    43. 43. The Bureaucracy and Information  Information delivered  Intended for Congress to use to craft and approve legislation  Information withheld  Appointees withhold information in order to further president’s agenda  Whistleblowers  Protection for those who speak out 8.4
    44. 44. Regulations and Quasi- Judicial Processes  Regulations  Agency-created laws  Rule-making  Describes how the regulations will be enforced  Hearings  Examine evidence 8.4
    45. 45. TABLE 8.5: Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits 8.4
    46. 46. Oversight and Accountability  Presidential Oversight  Supervisory authority of political appointees  Legislative Oversight  Gather information  Signal displeasure  Budgetary controls 8.4
    47. 47. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson 8.4
    48. 48. 8.4 Which policy-making structure evolved following the decline of the Iron Triangle? a. Quasi-Judicial Processes b. Revolving Door c. Issue Network d. Regulations 8.4
    49. 49. 8.4 Which policy-making structure evolved following the decline of the Iron Triangle? a. Quasi-Judicial Processes b. Revolving Door c. Issue Network d. Regulations 8.4
    50. 50. Video: So What? _1/polisci/presidency/ ml 8.4