Government » The American Bureaucracy » Bureaucracy and the Evolution of Public Administration

Bureaucracy and the Evolution of Public Administration

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define bureaucracy and bureaucrat
  • Describe the evolution and growth of public administration in the United States
  • Identify the reasons people undertake civil service

Throughout history, both small and large nations have elevated certain types of nonelected workers to positions of relative power within the governmental structure. Collectively, these essential workers are called the bureaucracy. A bureaucracy is an administrative group of nonelected officials charged with carrying out functions connected to a series of policies and programs. In the United States, the bureaucracy began as a very small collection of individuals. Over time, however, it grew to be a major force in political affairs. Indeed, it grew so large that politicians in modern times have ridiculed it to great political advantage. However, the country’s many bureaucrats or civil servants, the individuals who work in the bureaucracy, fill necessary and even instrumental roles in every area of government: from high-level positions in foreign affairs and intelligence collection agencies to clerks and staff in the smallest regulatory agencies. They are hired, or sometimes appointed, for their expertise in carrying out the functions and programs of the government.

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