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Table of Contents
Currently, the federal bureaucracy contains 15 executive departments mandated to advice the president and to run a particular policy with an aspect of governmental activity. The office of the President, Congress, and the Judicial Branch all depend on the bureaucratic organizations to attain their objectives. The bureaucracy is divided into Cabinet departments, independent agencies, as well as government corporations. Departments are organized into 3 tiers, each headed by the secretary, undersecretaries, and bureau level respectively. At the top of each Cabinet Department is a secretary (with the exemption of the Justice Department, which is led by the attorney general) who reports directly to the President. In conjunction with a few other top Presidential Advisers and the Vice President, these secretaries compose of the President’s Cabinet, a group of high-level administrators who report directly to the President. The department of Agriculture is an example of a Cabinet Department headed by the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. It is organized into seven agencies that are mandated to focus on a narrower scope of issues. They include forest service, farm service agency, rural utilities service, food and consumer service, food safety and inspection service, agricultural research service, and agricultural marketing service, among others. The heads of these agencies are the Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Inspector General, Executive Operations, Director of Communications and General Counsel. On the other hand, government corporations, such as the United States Postal Service (USPS) are government-controlled businesses that charge for their businesses. The independent agencies and government corporations are externally positioned in the department hierarchy and tend to benefit from enjoying more independence than the cabinet departments, even though the President still assigns and may exercise significant authority over their heads (Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle 310).
The Congress is mandated to control the bureaucracy in two ways: before-the-fact control and after-the-fact control. As regards before-the-fact control, the congress is required to ensure that legislative language with definite policies is implemented. As regards, the after-the-fact control, the Congress’s power of the purse (ability to establish the expenditure and taxation strategies of the nation) ensures bureaucratic conformity. On the same note, the Congress is in charge of supervising and scrutinizing hearings with the aim of monitoring bureaucratic activities. The three major roles of bureaucracy are political/public responsiveness, efficiency, and accountability. At the very root of bureaucratic government lies the role of responsiveness which is facilitated by maintaining efficiency and ensuring that bureaucrats communicate and answer to authoritative policy makers. Accountability is a fundamental task aimed at preventing the abuse of delegated power and ensuring that power is pointed toward the accomplishment of broadly accepted national goals with the utmost degree of efficiency and effectiveness. Precisely, accountability denotes ensuring that the process of government is legal and constitutional. Government bureaucrats attain accountability by rewarding or punishing individual bureaucrats with regards to their performance standard. The U.S. government bureaucracy not only works towards attaining efficiency and effectiveness but also work towards attaining political/public responsibility by ensuring that the process of government is lawful and constitutional. The task of executing the law is generally designed and recognized as a legitimate function of the executive branch (Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle 284-320).
The bureaucratic organizations that ensure that authoritative decisions of the government are executed include the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In the light of these, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) clearly provide a most notable example of how the bureaucracies are run. Being authorized by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to create rules governing safety in the workplace, the OSHA has issued a law regulating the health-care industry to prevent the multiplication of specific diseases. It was directed by the legislature to implement current private industry standards with regards to associational safety codes. Hence, it seeks to implement and comply with the authoritative decisions of the government (Lowi, Ginsberg, and Shepsle 284-320).