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CHAPTER 12 THE BUREAUCRACY: BUREAUCRATIC POLITICS CHAPTER OVERVIEW 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 public. 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. CHAPTER THEMES • 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
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This note was uploaded on 06/11/2011 for the course POLITICAL 101 taught by Professor Smithenson during the Spring '11 term at Valencia.

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