Ch15 Reading Assignment

AP United States Government and Politics
Reading Assignment
Chapter 15: The Bureaucracy
1. Compare and contrast the American and British models of government bureaucracy.
2. Sketch the history of the executive branch bureaucracy and the different uses to which it has been
3. Discuss the recruitment, retention, and demographic profiles of federal bureaucrats.
4. Show how the roles and missions of the agencies are affected by internal and external factors.
5. Review congressional measures to control the bureaucracy and evaluate their effectiveness.
6. List the “pathologies” that may affect bureaucracies and discuss why it is so difficult to reform the
executive branch bureaucracy.
Discussion Questions:
Correlates with “Theme A: Size and Power of Bureaucracy”
1. Discuss ways in which bureaucratic policies affect our everyday activities. For example, how might
decisions by bureaucratic agencies affect the food that you eat, the car that you drive, or the
medicine that you can take when you are ill? Is there any recourse for citizens who object to the
rules imposed by bureaucratic agencies?
2. How much power should the president have to hire and fire bureaucratic personnel? Is it efficient to
hire new bureaucratic leaders every time a new president is elected? What are the advantages and
disadvantages of allowing the president some control over the personnel of bureaucratic agencies?
3. How do you measure the power of a bureaucracy? For example, do you think about the number of
people employed or the size of its budget or the breadth of its agenda, or the scope of its authority?
Which bureaucratic agency do you consider most powerful? Why?
Correlates with “Theme B: Control of the Bureaucracy”
4. The text defines bureaucracy as “a large, complex organization composed of appointed officials.”
What does this mean? Does a large organization also have to be complex? It is possible to have a
simple administrative structure in an organization that has hundreds—or even thousands—of
5. The text’s definition of bureaucracy includes the phrase “appointed officials.” Why do the large,
complex organizations in American society not have elected rather than appointed officials? Would
it be more consistent with the American democratic system if bureaucratic leaders were elected?
Should voters elect the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS),
for example? Would this make these officials more responsive to public opinion? What about an
Assistant Secretary of Defense? Would the president be more or less able to control the
bureaucracy if these officials were independently elected? Would concerted, consistent action be
more or less likely if many more officials were elected?
6. The Pendleton Act has had both beneficial and harmful effects. On the one hand, it has decreased
the fear of job loss among civil servants, making the bureaucracy sometimes resistant to presidential
direction. On the other hand, bureaucrats should have some immunity to resist improper orders
from politically motivated superiors. How can these twin goals of competence and political
neutrality be balanced more perfectly than they are today?
AP United States Government and Politics
7. One of the criticisms of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of
New Orleans is that the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael
Brown, was a presidential appointee with limited experience in emergency management. Is it
important for agency directors to have direct experience or expertise in a field that correlates with
their agency position? On the other hand, should general leadership and managerial skills be
sufficient for this type of high-level position? If external standards are imposed in addition to the
president’s usual political criteria, how might his hurt his ability to fill bureaucratic positions? (See
the “What Would You Do” feature to review the challenges that presidents already face in their
search for qualified bureaucratic managers.)
8. How much oversight should Congress have over the functioning of bureaucracies? Is it realistic to
expect Congress to review major decisions made by every government agency? Should a separate
organizational structure be established to provide that governmental oversight?
Correlates with “Theme C: Bureaucratic Pathologies”
9. The text says that red tape is caused by the size of the agency and the political complexity of its
structure. Is this a sufficient explanation? Is there more red tape in government than these two
factors can explain? Might not bureaucrats have a tendency to be more concerned that elaborate
procedures are followed than that certain substantive outcomes happen? Is there a bureaucratic
way of thinking that might produce this result?
10. Explain why bureaucrats have little motivation to keep costs down. Can this situation be remedied?
If so, how?
Key Terms:
1. appropriation
2. authorization legislation
3. bureaucracy
4. committee clearance
5. competitive service
6. discretionary authority
7. government by proxy
8. iron triangle
9. issue network
10. laissez-faire
11. legislative veto
12. name-request job
13. red tape
14. trust fund
Chapter Outline