6.2 The Growth of the Federal Bureaucracy
The main agencies of government are composed of departments, corporations, independent agencies and their sub-units -- bureaus, divisions, offices, -- along with a network of regional and local offices. The quality of the services rendered by the government depends upon the quality of its civilian personnel, who serve the federal government.
6.2a The Nature of the Civil Service
The civilian administrative personnel of the federal government may be referred to as the civil service. Before 1820, appointments to most of the offices in the executive branch of the government were held at the pleasure of the President. Under the administration of Andrew Jackson (1828), a notorious appointment system sprang up, that could be summed up in the slogan "To the victor belong the spoils." Under the spoils system, when a new party came to power, its leaders and followers claimed the right to take over desirable government jobs. Therefore party loyalty replaced talent and experience. It was argued that rotation in office would keep the government democratic and that any intelligent person could perform the duties of a public official.
However a movement for civil service reform gained strength within three decades of the spoils system. Finally President Garfield’s assassination in 1881 by a disappointed office seeker, led to the passing of the Pendleton Act which set up the beginning of a merit system under the Civil Service Commission, consisting of three members. According to this Act, certain types of employees were placed under a new classified service, that could be entered by passing a competitive exam. Thus about three-quarters of the federal employees now hold jobs under the merit system, rather than under patronage. Besides, the federal employees were ensured that they would not lose their jobs in case of a change in administration.
By the Hatch Act of 1939 federal workers are prohibited
from running for office; further they are debarred from campaigning
for other candidates. Thus the Civil Service Commission acts as
a central agency for recruiting, examining and appointing government
workers. Such an arrangement ensures that there will be a professional
and nonpolitical bureaucracy.
6.2b The Rise of the Welfare State
The American government provides the citizens with various welfare services that increase his status and security as an individual, thus giving rise to the concept of the welfare state. During President Roosevelt’s tenure, the Congress passed the first Social Security Act (1935). Various agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, promote economic security and welfare. Through them, the federal government supports old-age assistance, medical assistance for the aged, aid to the blind, aid to families with dependent children, aid to the permanently and totally disabled, maternal and child health services, crippled children services and child welfare services. Under President Johnson’s Great Society, in the 1960, there was a further expansion of the welfare state’s activities through Medicare, Head Start, the Job Corps and the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEC). President Nixon’s administration created the Environmental Protection Agency. New cabinet departments were established under OSHA that is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Republicans and Democrats continuously try to shape governmental welfare programs along the lines indicated by population trends.
6.2c National Security Bureaucracy
Several agencies of the federal bureaucracy protect the nation from foreign as well as domestic dangers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) form the national security bureaucracy. Its personnel are well trained and widely experienced in political military strategies. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms; the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, were increased in size in response to the increasing public concern over violent crime, drugs and illegal immigration into the United States.
Charecterstics of the Bureaucracy
The growth of the Federal Bureaucracy
Controlling the size of the Bureaucracy
The functions of the Fedearl Bureaucracy
The Structure of the Federal Bureaucracy
Bureaucracies and the Democratic Process