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AP Gov Chapter 9: The Federal Bureaucracy

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Michael Hamilton

on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of AP Gov Chapter 9: The Federal Bureaucracy

"My day is frittered away with the personal seeking of people when it ought to be given to the great problems which concern the whole country."
-- 1881 diary entry of James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States
Why is that, Mr. President?
Well, since you asked . . . .
Because word is out that I would like to move our system of hiring federal employees to a MERIT SYSTEM, and folks would like me to hire them before the new rules, whatever they may be, come to exist.
Because the current system--a SPOILS SYSTEM--is the norm, and this is historically expected of someone in my position (i.e., the highest in the land): reward loyal party members with federal offices.
Because the Pendleton Act, a.k.a. Civil Service Reform Act (1883), has not been passed yet, and won't be until two years after my assassination (which is imminent).
And they expect it because. . . . Well, there's no other way to say this. . . .
"To the victors belong the spoils," as the saying goes. When Jackson was elected, he exercised his right to fire public-office holders of the defeated political party and replace them with party loyalists. Some would call that PATRONAGE: jobs, grants, or other special favors given as rewards to friends and political allies for their support.
Because Andrew Jackson implemented the SPOILS SYSTEM 13 presidents ago.
Oh. Well, I guess you guys have been busy.

But how do you have so many jobs to offer?

Wait--did you pass the American Jobs Act?!
No. . . .
Hmm. Must have been World War II. . . . .
2012? 2013? 2014?
. . . or Vietnam, or something else big, then, to grow the size of government?
Kind of . . . but it didn't really go down that way, either. Remember, I'm back here in the previous century.
But--
Please stop guessing. You are making the audience carsick. Just follow me back to the beginning, Grasshopper, and I shall tell all. . . .
Jackson, for instance, elevated the office of post-master general (the nation's chief mailman) to Cabinet level status. Seem strange?
Under Washington, the federal bureaucracy consisted of 3 departments: War, Treasury, and Foreign Affairs (i.e., State). Their secretaries held Cabinet-level positions.
Congress soon added the position of attorney general to offer legal counsel.
These positions were confirmed by the Senate but could be fired at the president's will.
By 1816, the country was expanding significantly. New departments were created to alleviate and better execute the responsibilities of overburdened offices.
Then consider two things: 1. The importance of communication among the people in a REPUBLIC, and 2., the number of federal appointments a prominent Post Office would require. (Cue the SPOILS SYSTEM, by the way.)
Of course, the Civil War added thousands of new federal employees, as well as created the need for new agencies.
Agriculture, for instance, received an eponymous department in 1862, because of some hard harvests, poor distribution, and the fact that (as Napoleon said), "an army marches on its stomach."
1866 saw the dawning of the Pension office to serve the 127,000 eligible veterans
In 1870, the Justice Department (remember the attorney general?) was elevated to the the Cabinet.
And nearly 30 years after its creation (or 2 clicks of this Prezi), Agriculture would find itself in the Cabinet as well, advising farmers about soil conservation, livestock breeding, planting, etc.
You may speak now, Grasshopper.
The federal bureaucracy is getting huge!
You have no idea.
Don't forget, then comes the Pendlton Act, which we talked about earlier. (Click forward.) This is the reform measure that in 1883 established the principle of federal employment on the basis of open, competitive exams and created the Civil Service Commission.
And here, perhaps, it will be beneficial for me to stop staring at the screen sideways. (You too.)

Let's go to the line graph.
We're now going to talk about the bureaucracy becoming REGULATORY.

You may be tempted to assume that FDR pulled the trigger on turning federal agencies from service providers into regulators--or Truman, or Johnson--as a measure for war or defense, or to avert some national crisis. And in fact FDR did create dozens of agencies (small and large), with the help of Congress. But you know that.
In fact, though, it was the Congress-created Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), established in 1887, that was the first INDEPENDENT REGULATORY COMMISSION. The key word is "regulatory." Here shifts the focus of the bureaucracy from service to regulation. Its members are appointed by the president. Its focus is the typically an aspect of the economy. And its members, once confirmed, cannot be fired except for failure to uphold their oaths of office. Suddenly the federal government had vast powers over individual and property rights.
And it was Teddy Roosevelt who, in 1903, got Congress to establish the Department of Labor and Commerce to oversee employer/employee relations. . . .
. . . and Wilson in 1913 who divided that department into two: Commerce and Labor. Why? Again, expansion--not westward, but upward. The economy grew, and it became clear that EMPLOYERS and WORKERS could not be adequately represented by one department.

Also: enter the 16th Amendment. . . . $$
Enter FDR, World War II, and thousands of new veterans returning to an economy and populous that are long overdue for regeneration.
And in 1965, enter the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (b/c of the Civil Rights Act in 1964).
Tell you what . . . throw in HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and Transportation here, too.
On and on. Add more along the way--for example, the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, created by President George W. Bush in response to 9/11, and the non-Cabinet-level Economic Recovery Advisory Board, added to the EOP by President Obama.
Got it. Those details are helpful. I will study each of them this week, because knowing them adds to my general knowledge, makes me a better citizen, and equips me for the AP Government exam.
There is hope for you yet, Grasshopper.
But . . . for now, what is the "Big Picture Takeaway"?
3 Simple Things:
1. As the country expanded in geography and in population, the executive branch added more and more departments and agencies to better "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed (Article II, Section 3).
2. The late 19th Century saw a shift in agency focus from being service providers to being regulators (e.g., the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), the first independent regulatory commission (IRC).
3. Twenty-first-century Americans are basically accustomed to having the federal government regulate areas that it once had no say in, such as affordable middle-class housing (conisider VHA loans) and college scholarships (consider the G.I. Bill).
And speaking of modern Americans . . .

. . . howsabout we outline the modern bureaucracy?
Basics:

The other 10%?
1. Appointive policy-making positions (3,500 presidential appointees)
2. Independent regulatory commissioners (also appointed by president, but independent of him once they take office)
3. Lower-level, non-policy patronage positions
90% enter through exams (at lower levels) or with a resume outlining experience, special skills, et al. The process takes 6-9 months.
Let's run some more numbers:
2.7 million federal employees
1150 civilian agencies
7 federal agency regions
12% work in D.C.
15,000 job skills
47 = average age
16 = average length in civil service.
Interesting exceptions: Department of Homeland Security (and its sub-agency, the TSA), Department of State
about the modern bureaucracy
Structure:
of the modern bureaucracy
Cabinet departments
Comprise 60% of federal workforce
2 masters and 1 income provider (so 3 masters)
President
People for whom it provides services
Congress
Independent executive agencies.
One second. Do you remember when this happened? (Click forward.)

But services didn't disappear. Instead, they became the focus of IEAs.
Examples = NASA, EPA
Relative independence from the president
Independent regulatory commissions
Even more independent thant IEAs from the president
Usually deal with complex economic aspects or problems
Examples = FCC, SEC, Federal Reserve Board (the Fed).
Newer example = OSHA
The difference between old and new?

Older IRCS are charged with overseeing an industry for the sake of the strength of that industry.

Newer IRCs tend to be charged with overseeing an industry for the sake of public health and safety.
Government Corporations
Most indendence from president
Established in the 1930s
Provide services that the private sector could provide but is not providing, because of lack of financial incentives
Example = Tennessee Valley Authority
Let's now determine how the bureaucracy makes policy.
"First things first: know your TERMS. You've already memorized them . . . and your teacher (ahem) may not consider it worthwhile to type each of them out on this very cool Prezi. Feel free to use a cheat sheet as we go on."
-- apocryphally attributed to President James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States, date unknown.
Second things second: Any concerns about the consitutionality of the RULE MAKING process, or the REGULATIONS which come out of it?

I see that hand.
Yes. If the bureaucracy is part of the executive branch, which executes the laws, don't its rules and regulations violate the Consitution's separation of powers?
No, but good question. When Congress creates a bureaucracy, it is essentially acknowledging that it lacks the expertise or logistical ability to create sound legislation for a particular field. It thus delegates some of its lawmaking powers to the bureaucracy.

A bureaucracy's regulations have the force of law, and are therefore registered in the Federal Register. Each regulation must open with its statutory purpose and the basis of the rule. Concerned persons or parties may submit written arguments to express their reservations about regulations within 30 days. An objection doesn't guarantee a rule will be withdrawn, but it can help, and it at least makes the controversy public.

So essentially a bureaucracy legislates--let's say "participates in the legislative process." And that's not all. It can adjudicate, too. Some agencies resort to ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUDICATION, using a federal judge to resolve disputes, but without actually entering into the legal system (i.e., the judicial branch).
Bureaucratic policy can be made at all levels--and not necessarily through regulations.

How might an IRS agent make a policy decision on the fly?

Or a Department of Justice Lawyer?

Or the district attorney who dismissed my case when that white truck forced me to swerve, slam on my brakes, and rear-end the car in front of me, and when the white truck rode into the sunset before I could get his plates? (Don't forget, bureaucracy is at EVERY level of government.)

Such policymaking affects individuals in situation X, Y, or Z--and taken as a whole, it comprises the character of the the agency.

With the number of bureaucracies and agencies, there is bound to be overlap. So be familiar with these concepts: IRON TRIANGLES, ISSUE NETWORKS, and (most importantly) INTERAGENCY COUNCILS.

An example of the latter is the Homeland Security Council, which also has a policy coordinating committee.

The HSC-PCC coordinates a host of federal, state, and local agencies to advise the president and help the executive defend the nation against terrorism.
Or the very kind lady at the BMV who didn't call the cops after delicately informing me that I may or may not be 4 months behind the curve on getting an Ohio driver's license? (Sheesh, I paid $90 for it in Taxachusetts . . . you'd think I'd be able to keep it till it expires! But ignorance of the law is no excuse.) Anyway, I plead the 5th.
Ch 9: The Federal Bureaucracy
Created by Michael Hamilton, 2/2012
Sources:
O'Connor, Karen, Larry J. Sabato, and Alixandria Yanus. American Government: Roots and Reform. 2011 Advanced Placement ed. Boston: Pearson Longman, 2011.
O'Connor, Karen, ed. American Government: Readings and Cases. 2nd Ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 2001
For other sources, see hyperlinks in presentation.
Full transcript