Government » The American Bureaucracy » Controlling the Bureaucracy

Controlling the Bureaucracy

Learning Objectives

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

  • Explain the way Congress, the president, bureaucrats, and citizens provide meaningful oversight over the bureaucracies
  • Identify the ways in which privatization has made bureaucracies both more and less efficient

As our earlier description of the State Department demonstrates, bureaucracies are incredibly complicated. Understandably, then, the processes of rulemaking and bureaucratic oversight are equally complex. Historically, at least since the end of the spoils system, elected leaders have struggled to maintain control over their bureaucracies. This challenge arises partly due to the fact that elected leaders tend to have partisan motivations, while bureaucracies are designed to avoid partisanship. While that is not the only explanation, elected leaders and citizens have developed laws and institutions to help rein in bureaucracies that become either too independent, corrupt, or both.

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