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Federal Bureaucracy

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Bureaucracies normally adhere to three basic principles which comprises of hierarchical authority, job specialization and formal rules. Bureaucracies with hierarchy and division of labor have several advantages, which include efficiency, continuity, independence, and equity.  A clear bureaucracy aids the flow of information and improves responsiveness and accountability. After authoritative policymakers have submitted their authority to bureaucracies, their duty is to uphold both responsiveness and accountability. In addition, bureaucracies promote the concentration of decision making or administrative power to professional public managers in an environmental of hierarchical control.  The bureaucracy of American government has provided experienced and expert professionals who offer continuity and political neutrality to its operations, that is to say, they make the government work efficiently and effectively.  The departments, independent agencies, and Government Corporation within the bureaucracy are beneficial in acting upon indispensable governmental functions and representing varying and rising needs of all citizens. In the recent years, some politicians have attempted to “reinvent” bureaucracies with the aim of improving their efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness. To avoid the rigidity attributed to bureaucracies, politicians have downsized them through privatization, devolution, termination, and deregulation.  Through privatization, government bureaucracies have shifted assets from the state to the private sector rather than moving them from one arm of the government to another.. To curtail costs and increase efficiency, governments around the globe have been privatizing certain services traditionally carried out by the government. The U.S. Federal Bureaucracy has utilized this strategy of changing government control or realization of a program by contracting with private sector companies. Other bureaucratic governments have attempted to lessen the budgets and policy scope of regulatory agencies in order to progress with the policy of deregulation with the aim of achieving efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. The broadly based approach by governments at all levels to regulate a number of business activities has been partly influenced by the pressures for controlling public sector expenditure and utilizing resources (Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle 284-320).

However, there are problems linked with a bureaucracy that prevent knowledge and adaptation as well. They have a tendency of becoming rigid, becoming accountable only to themselves, and developing obstructions between citizens and the government. The routine and ritualistic observances to routines and procedures generate the infamous red tape that plagues many public agencies. The Federal Executive branch has been reported to suffer from an image problem attributable to the inefficient and frustrating bureaucratic procedures. Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle, highlighted how organizational actors in bureaucratic settings are extremely rule-bound to the extent where their primary concern with conformity to rules interferes with the achievement of the purposes of the organization. On the positive note, bureaucracies have a huge probability for efficiency, but they are almost generally plagued by rigidity and resistance to innovation. Rules, routines, and communication problems are contributing factors to rigidity in bureaucratic governments.  The large size, widespread authority, and extensive autonomy of the bureaucracy create major problems in terms of its political control by its head, the President and Congress. Unlike civil servants in unitary and parliamentary regimes, American bureaucrats face more than one political master and tend to force alliances with other political actors (particularly Congress) against the President, with the motive of looking after their personnel, programmes, and budgets or hindering policy change (284-320).

Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle, conclude by recommending that bureaucracies should be administered on sound principles and management. To attain this, democratic policymakers should create broad policy targets while professional administrators should be assigned to efficiently execute those policy decisions. Additionally, bureaucratic hierarchies or the chain of demand should be clearly designed and understandable to the internal and external political actors of a bureaucracy. In order to attain bureaucratic trade-offs pertaining to democratic control and bureaucratic efficiency, bureaucratic leeway should be utilized and elected officials (the President as well as the members of Congress) should be keen so as uphold democratic control over the bureaucracy (284-320).

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