The American Democracy, 10th Edition (Patterson)

Chapter 13: The Federal Bureaucracy: Administering the Government

Chapter Overview

This chapter examines both the need for bureaucracy and the problems associated with it. The chapter describes the bureaucracy’s responsibilities, organizational structure, and management practices. The chapter also explains the “politics” of the bureaucracy. Although the three constitutional branches of government impose a degree of accountability on the bureaucracy, its sheer size confounds their efforts to control it fully. The main points discussed in this chapter are these:
  • Bureaucracy is an inevitable consequence of complexity and scale. Modern government could not function without a large bureaucracy. Through authority, specialization, and rules, bureaucracy provides a means of managing thousands of tasks and employees.

  • Bureaucrats naturally take an “agency point of view,” seeking to promote their agency’s programs and power. They do this through their expert knowledge, support from clientele groups, and backing by Congress or the president.

  • Although agencies are subject to oversight by the president, Congress, and the judiciary, bureaucrats exercise considerable power in their own right.

Patterson Tenth Edition Large Cover
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