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Political Science 2244E Study Guide - Final Guide: Competitive Service, Red Tape, Excepted Service

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 2244E
P Ferguson
Study Guide

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American Government 11/30/2011 9:32:00 AM
What is the Bureaucracy? Review 416
Bureaucracy: Large, complex organization composed of appointed
Hierarchical organizations
o As you move up, more specialized people and more intense
Division of labour people get more specialized and things are
more efficient
Organizes chaos
Creates accountability
Necessary to implement public policy‟
o Division of labour
o Coordinate experts on complex task
o Accomplish unimaginably difficult tasks
o Insulate programs from “predators”
Predators against certain policies
Red tape
Distinctiveness of US Bureaucracy
Shared political authority
Functions shared across “federal” levels (Iron triangles:
agencies(bureaucracies), congressional committees, and interest
Adversary culture (courts)
o the actions of bureaucrats are often fought in court
Scope little public ownerships of corporations, but high degree of
public regulation
Government by proxy (contract out) Oversight? Efficiency?
o Private corporations do private work, contract out
o Hiring people who are knowledgeable but also have other
loyalties not to government
o Want to fund less federal employees
Black water: private security firms that are hired by the
government (military), less red tape
Growth of the Bureaucracy
Patronage (19th century and early 20th centuries)
o Passing out offices to courier political favour

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The Civil War (administrative weakness)
o When it came time to gather and support troops, Lincoln
didn‟t know how
o Government activism (Depression and WWII)
o Supreme Court (serve public interest = discretion)
o Income tax ($5-$44 bil from 1940-1945)
o Public attitudes (social safety net)
o Employment growth
Direct growth is modest, at best
Significant indirect growth (13m, 1+3)
o Growth in discretionary authority
Delegation of undefined authority
Examples: subsidies, grants and aids, devising and
enforcing regulation
Explaining Bureaucratic Behaviour
Recruitment and Retention
o Review 408-409
Competitive service (civil service exams)
The government offices to which people are
appointed on the basis of merit, as ascertained by
a written exam or by applying certain selection
By 96, less than 54% were selected by
competitive service because it is cumbersome, not
always relevant and they needed professional
trained employees that couldn‟t be ranked on the
standard exam. Civil rights groups also wanted a
more varied racial combinations (Affirmative
o Excepted service (50%) (bypass competitive service)
o Buddy system (name-requests)
o Presidential appointments (3%)
o Most bureaucrats cannot easily be fired
1/10th of 1%
Senior executive service making firing easier

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2 years ½ of 1% received unsatisfactory ratings (no
Characteristics of Federal Employees
o Dominated by lifers
Continuity and expertise
Subordinates power over new bosses
Agency POV longer you stay in a bureaucracy, the
more you adopt views of bureaucracy
o Do bureaucrats “look” like Americans?
More liberal/conservative?
Not extreme
Type of agency correlated with attitudes of employees
(bureaucrats reflect their work)
Nature of the Job
Culture of an agency
o Informal understandings
o Solutions are geared towards capabilities
o If you want to get ahead…which job?
o Motivate workers
o Hard to change agency
Constraints on the Bureaucracy
Hiring, firing, pay established by law and not the market
Multiple agencies addressing any issue
Citizen demands: openness, honesty, and fairness
Budgets Maximizers?
Effects of Constraints
Government moves slowly (many constraints)
Sometimes inconsistent (open v. private)
Actions easily blocked (many voices)
Reluctant decision making (lower ranks)
Peter‟s principle: people will rise to the level of their incompetence
Complaints about red tape (citizens)
Agency Allies
Iron triangles:
o Agency
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