Federal Bureaucracy Outline
Major administrative units of the federal government that have responsibility for the
conduct of a wide range of government operations.
Interior Departments -Ken Salazer
Secretary of Treasury - Timothy Geithner
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Justice Department - Attorney General Eric Holder
Each Cabinet unit contains a number of small administrative units with a variety of titles,
such as bureau, agency, commissions, administration, center, service, and institute.
Dept. of Homeland Security FEMA, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation
Security Administration, Immigration and Customs and Border Protection
Department Heads are called Secretaries except Justice Dept. (Attorney General)
The President appoints the heads of the cabinet departments and their chief assistants
who are called undersecretaries.
Presidents Cabinet - An advisory group created by the president that includes the
department heads and other officials chosen by the president. Advising the president
on policy formulation and leading their departments in policy implementation.
President will turn to a smaller group of aides, advisors, and selected department heads
for policy advice.
Inner Cabinet- The four cabinet officials, The secretary of state, secretary of defense,
secretary of treasury, and the attorney general.
Independent Executive Agencies
Executive branch agencies that are not part of any of the 15 cabinet-level departments.
The president appoints both individual agency heads and board members, pending
confirmation by the Senate. The heads of independent executive agencies report
directly to the president and serve at the president’s pleasure.
Peace Corps, NASA, CIA, EPA. SSA,
Federal Election Commission independent executive agency headed by a multimember
Organizationally similar to private corporations except that the government owns them
rather than stockholders. The rationale is that an agency that makes a product or
provides a service should be run by methods similar to those used in the private sector.
Postal Service Amtrak
Foundations and Institutes
Administer grant programs to local governments, universities, nonprofit institutions, and
individuals for research in the natural and social sciences or to promote the arts.
NSF National Science Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts
Independent Regulatory Commissions
An agency outside the major executive departments that is charged with the regulation
of important aspects of the economy,
FTC - Federal Trade Commission –regulates business competition, enforcement of laws
against monopolies and protection of consumers from deceptive trade practices.
FCC Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international radio,
television, telephone, etc.
SEC - Stocks and bonds as well as investment holding companies.
EEOC investigates and rules on charges of employment discrimination
Agencies are headed by boards of three to seven members who are appointed by the
president with Senate approval. Unlike other cabinet members and the heads of other
executive departments, the president cannot remove regulatory commissioners
Congress has designed independent regulatory commissions to provide closer more
flexible regulations than Congress itself can offer through statutory law, which is law
that is written by the legislature.
Congress has delegated authority to these agencies to control various business
practices using broad, general language. Ex. FTC regulates advertising in the “public
convenience, interest, or necessity. EEOC “to prevent any person from engaging in any
unlawful employment practice.”
Independent regulatory commissions and regulatory agencies in the executive branch
do much of their work through the rulemaking process. Rulemaking –The regulatory
process used by government agencies to enact legally binding regulations.
Advance notice in the Federal Register and allows 30 days in which the public can
comment on the proposed rules. Concerned parties submit written comments or offer
testimony at public hearings. When an agency officially adopts a rule, it is published in
the Code of Federal Regulations.
Rules are sometimes the product of formal negotiations among government agencies
and affected interest groups. Regulatory negotiation is a structured process by which
representatives of the interests that would be substantially affected by a rule, including
employees of the regulatory agency, negotiate agreements on the terms of the rule.
The agency interviews representative of the interest groups determines what issues
should be considered assess the willingness to participate and the likelihood that an
agreement can be reached among the parties. The goal of regulatory negotiation is to
produce an agreement to which all the parties will sign.
Participants in the rulemaking process
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - Economic impact of $ 100 million will have
a costs and Benefits analysis
Congress Exercises oversight of agency rules. Agencies must submit all proposed new
rules to Congress, which has 60 days, the rule goes into effect.
Federal Courts - Parties unhappy with agency decision sometimes turn to the federal
courts for relief. Some believe they went too far or not far enough. In general, the
courts have ruled that agency decisions must be supported by evidence and reasoned
explanations and that the agencies must follow statutory requirements to give notice,
hold hearings, and consult with parties outside the affected industries.
Quasi-Governmental Companies - An agency outside the major executive departments
that is charged with the regulation of important aspects of the economy. Congress
created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase the availability of credit to
homebuyers. They are profit -making corporations run by 18 member boards of
governors appointed by the president with Senate confirmation. They are exempt from
state and federal taxation and enjoy a line of credit at the U.S. Treasury. Pay lower
interest rates than they would if they were strictly private enterprises. Lower rates
Export-import Bank - provides loan guarantees to foreign purchasers to enable them to
acquire American goods.
Between 1991 and 2001 federal payroll decreased from 3.1 million to 2.2 million but the
decline in the size of the federal workforce has been reversed. (Homeland security)
Many people earn their living from federal money than actually appear on the federal
payroll. In addition to its own full-time employees, the federal government uses
hundreds of thousands of contract workers and consultants. Although the federal
government pays their salaries their names do not appear on federal personnel rosters.
Personnel Since 1960, the number of state and local government employees has risen
from 6.4 to 18.6 million. Much has been due to the growth in federal programs or
programs mandated by the federal government.
President Andrew Jackson Spoil System
Hatch Act - A measure designed to restrict the political activities of federal employees to
voting and the private expression of views.
Senior Executive Service (SES) - Top civil servants who would be eligible for
substantial merit bonuses but who could be transferred, demoted, or fired more easily
than other federal employees.
Whistleblowers - Workers who report wrongdoing or mismanagement and streamline
procedures for dismissing incompetent employees.
Department of Homeland Security - gives the president authority to relax civil service
rules to make it easier for the administration to hire, transfer, promote, cross-train,
discipline and fire employees in the new department.
The administration wanted to base annual salary increases on performance tied to job
evaluation rather than giving every employee an annual raise based on longevity.
Unions feared some managers would use the authority to reward their friends and
punish their enemies without regard for the performance of the workers. What is not
said, is that there is a mechanism, a panel that can be used to arbitrate concerns. In
2009, pay for performance system for all federal agencies is supposed to be
implemented. Makes it easier for managers to reward good work and punish poor
performance while making it more difficult for unions to intervene on behalf of their
Politics and Administration
Presidents have an important stake in the faithful and efficient implementation of federal
programs. They must work to influence the administrative process and their success is
not assured. If offers the opportunity to attempt to influence policy implementation.
Presidents have a continuous struggle to have a major impact on bureaucratic. The
federal bureaucracy is too large and spread out for easy oversight from the White
House and many federal programs are administered by state and local officials or
private contractors over whom the president has little direct authority. Also often lack
time to manage the bureaucracy and may be uninterested in doing so.
Presidents have several tools for influencing the bureaucracy.
1. Name most of the top administrators in the bureaucracy, including the department
heads and under secretaries. This might ensure that the agency would conform to the
president’s policy priorities.
2. Except for the independent regulatory commissions, the president has the power to
dismiss their appointees.
3. The president can use OMB to evaluate agency performance and screen rules
proposed by executive branch agencies.
4. The president can ask Congress to reorganize the bureaucracy and propose agency
budgets to Congress.
Legal authority to oversee the actions of the federal bureaucracy.
Cut its budget, audit its expenditures, investigate its performance, and overrule its
Sometimes ineffective in that Congress is unable to provide clear, consistent policy
oversight for the bureaucracy, because congress itself lacks consensus on
administrative policy goals. Congress sometimes concerned with constituency service
in which they use the executive branch to assist them in solving these problems.
Congress is less likely to have aggressive oversight of the respective bureaucracy
following a mutually beneficial relationship.
Fire Alarm oversight- Indirect system of congressional surveillance of bureaucratic
administration characterized by rules, procedures, and informal practices that enable
individual citizens and organized interest groups to examine administrative decisions,
change agencies with violating legislative goals, and seek remedies from agencies,
courts, and the Congress itself.
Every agency has several or perhaps dozens of interest groups vitally concerned with
the programs it administers. Broadcasters concerned with the FCC, Western land
interests and environmentalists monitor the activities of the Interior Department. Postal
workers’ unions, direct-mail advertisers, publishers, etc concerned with the Postal
Number of tools for influencing the bureaucracy.
1. Lobby Congress to pressure bureaucracy on their behalf.
2. File lawsuits to block or reverse an agency’s decision. Some interest groups will
charge the bureaucracy of becoming a captured agency.
Captured Agencies -Agencies that work to benefit the economic interests they
regulate rather than serving the public interests. Often assisted with the revolving door
between industry and the bureaucracy as evidence of the comfortable relationship
between the regulatory commissions and industry. When commissioner leave
government, they often take jobs in the industries they once regulated and presidents
may appoint industry executives to serves as commissioners. Catch 22 in that these
are the people who know the “tricks” and would be able to control the agency better.
Would need to be loyal first and foremost to the public good. Today many political
scientists believe that the captured agencies thesis is too simplistic. If does occur, will
not always last due to a range of factors like judicial review, the media, economic
Expertise and power in alliances with important members of congress and interest
groups. Executive-branch agencies are some of the most vigorous and effective
lobbyists. By assisting key members of Congress with problems involving constituent
complaints, agencies build friendships.
Resources for defending their turf.
1.Subtle behind the scene resistance to policy changes; 2. Follow the letter of the law
and not the spirit; 3 Delay; 4.News of mistakes or bickering can be leaked to the press.
5. Can achieve their goals if they can find a way to connect their policy preferences with
the self-interest of members of congress.
Ex. NASA: 35 major subcontractors in 22 states.
Subgovernments and Issue Networks.
Subgovernment or iron triangle
A cozy, three-sided relationship among government agencies, interest groups, and key
members of congress in which all parties benefit.
Less influence than the 1940s and 1950s. Relatively small number of fairly
autonomous participants, a handful of powerful committee chairs a small number of
interest6 groups, and a few agency administrators. Furthermore, most policy decisions
were made outside public view.
Issue Networks - Hugh Helco
A group of political actors that is actively involved with policymaking in a particular
issue area. They are fluid, with particular participants moving in and out. They can
include technical specialists, members of Congress, journalists, the president, interest
groups, bureaucracy, academic experts and individual political activists. Policy in a
particular area results from conflict among a broad range of political actors both in and
out of government.
In conclusion, federal agencies are very helpful in bringing things to the forefront and
hence, to place on the agenda. They also participate in policy formulation by working
directly with the White House and the members of congress during the legislative
process and the budget process. Federal bureaucracy implements policy. Ex. IRS
enforces the nations tax laws. FEMA disasters. Depending upon whether Congress
was broad and vague in the legislation in which case the bureaucracy would have broad
regulatory discretion. If Congress wrote detailed legislation, it would give the
bureaucratic agencies less discretion. Finally, federal agencies evaluate policy.
Agencies gather data, conduct research, prepare reports, and recommend policy
changes to evaluate policy and to assure the continuation of their respective agencies.