THE BUREAUCRACY: BUREAUCRATIC POLITICS
Bureaucracies are probably the most misunderstood system of the American government. Because of
the misunderstanding, much of the public view bureaucracies in negative terms. Yet the work of the
bureaucracy is essential to performing all of the needs and requirements demanded by the American
public. As years pass, and as demands for government intervention on behalf of the public continue to
escalate, the bureaucracy is likely to grow—all the while under a cloud of distrust by the American
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, bureaucracies have grown to touch on every aspect
of American life. There is virtually no activity, public or private, that does not have a rule or regulation
that will be managed in some way by some bureaucracy. In addition to the impact of laws managed by
bureaucracies, the very size of agencies throughout the U.S. government accounts for massive
employment for working Americans. Thus, the “hated” bureaucracies serve real needs of Americans in
two major ways—through services and through employment.
Management of the bureaucracy is, at best, difficult to accomplish because of its size. Today, the
bureaucracies have such power that they often successfully challenge Congress, the president, and
even courts. In part, their successes are aided by the job security of employees who, because of civil
service requirements, are virtually unstoppable. Additionally, the budgetary process funding
bureaucracies has become so large and complex, and bureaucratic budgetary requirements do not
require detailed accounting, that there is really no way to cut bureaucracie's growth—though a number
of reforms have been attempted, few have been successful.
Constitutional mandates on means of constraining agencies do exist, but in practice Congress, the
branch of government holding the most potential for constraining bureaucratic growth and action, uses
bureaucracies’ personnel and powers for political benefit for members of Congress and their party.
• Bureaucratic power invades every aspect of Americans’ lives.
• The federal bureaucracy is charged with responsibility for implementation of laws passed by
Congress, but they also serve to initiate and make law, directly and indirectly.
• The growth of the bureaucracy is founded in the demands by the voting public, and the responses by
their elected representatives in creating and securing agencies.
• The budgetary process is extremely complex, but deriving much of its management from major
bureaucracies, input in conjunction with actions taken by the president and Congress.
• Considering all of the attempts to constrain bureaucracies’ growth and power, Congress has the
most potential to take action because of constitutional mandates.
• Courts have, in recent years, been used to attempt to control bureaucracies’ actions, though the