Government » The American Bureaucracy » Controlling the Bureaucracy

Controlling the Bureaucracy Summary


To reduce the intra-institutional disagreements the traditional rulemaking process seemed to bring, the negotiated rulemaking process was designed to encourage consensus. Both Congress and the president exercise direct oversight over the bureaucracy by holding hearings, making appointments, and setting budget allowances. Citizens exercise their oversight powers through their use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and by voting. Finally, bureaucrats also exercise oversight over their own institutions by using the channels carved out for whistleblowers to call attention to bureaucratic abuses.

Practice Questions

  1. Briefly explain the advantages of negotiated rulemaking.
  2. What concerns might arise when Congress delegates decision-making authority to unelected leaders, sometimes called the fourth branch of government?
  3. In what ways might the patronage system be made more efficient?
  4. Does the use of bureaucratic oversight staff by Congress and by the OMB constitute unnecessary duplication? Why or why not?
  5. Which model of bureaucracy best explains the way the government currently operates? Why?
  6. Do you think Congress and the president have done enough to protect bureaucratic whistleblowers? Why or why not?


negotiated rulemaking: a rulemaking process in which neutral advisors convene a committee of those who have vested interests in the proposed rules and help the committee reach a consensus on them

privatization: measures that incorporate the market forces of the private sector into the function of government to varying degrees

whistleblower: a person who publicizes misdeeds committed within a bureaucracy or other organization

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