Federal Government of the United States and Civil Service Essay

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AP Government Chapter 14 Notes: The Bureaucracy

← The Nature of Bureaucracy o Presidents have been generally powerless to affect the structure and operation of the federal bureaucracy significantly. o The bureaucracy has been called the “fourth branch of government,” even though you will find no reference to the bureaucracy in the original Constitution or in the 27 amendments that have been passed since 1787. o Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution gives the president the power to appoint “all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.” o Article II, Section 3, states that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.” o Constitutional scholars believe that the legal basis for the bureaucracy rests on these two sections of Article II. o A bureaucracy is the name given to a large organization that is structured hierarchically to carry out specific functions. o Public and Private Bureaucracies ▪ Any large corporation or university can be considered a bureaucratic organization. The fact is that the handling of complex problems requires a division of labor. ▪ A private corporation, such as Microsoft, has a single set of leaders, its board of directors. ▪ Public bureaucracies, in contrast, do not have a single set of leaders. Although the president is the chief administrator of the federal system, all bureaucratic agencies are subject to the desires of Congress for their funding, staffing, and their continued existence. ▪ Public bureaucracies serve the citizen rather than the stockholder. ▪ Government bureaucracies are not organized to make a profit. Rather they are supposed to perform their functions as efficiently as possible to conserve the taxpayer’s dollars. o Bureaucracies Compared – Because the lines of authority often are not well defined, some bureaucracies in the U.S. government may be able to operate with a significant degree of autonomy. ▪ The federal nature of the American government also means that national bureaucracies regularly provide financial assistance to their state counterparts. ▪ There are numerous administrative agencies in the federal bureaucracy – such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission – that extensively regulate private companies even though they virtually never have an ownership interest in those companies.

← Theories of Bureaucracy o The Weberian Model – a model of bureaucracy (private or public) developed by the German sociologist Max Weber, who viewed bureaucracies as rational, hierarchical organizations in which power flows from the top downward and decisions are based on logical reasoning and data analysis instead of “gut feelings” and “guesswork.” ▪ Individual advancement in bureaucracies is supposed to be based on merit rather than political connections. ▪ The modern bureaucracy, according to Weber, should be an apolitical organization. o The Acquisitive Model – A model of bureaucracy that views top-level bureaucrats as seeking constantly to expand the size of their budgets and the staffs of their departments or agencies so as to gain greater power and influence in the public sector. o The Monopolistic Model – A model of bureaucracy that compares bureaucracies to monopolistic business firms. Lack of competition within a bureaucracy leads to inefficient and costly operations. Because bureaucracies are not penalized for inefficiency, there is no incentive to reduce costs or use resources more productively. ▪ Some economists have argued that such problems can be cured only by privatizing…