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Federal Bureaucracy

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

The Federal Bureaucracy is the unelected, administrative body in the Executive Branch. It is the back bone of the US Government. It is arranged into departments, agencies and commissions.

The main function of the Federal Bureaucracy, is to carry out the policy and work on the finer details of the bills passed by Congress. The bureaucracy has 2.7 million employees, has a $13.8 billion payroll, and is divided into roughly 900 departments. Of all the employees in Washing DC, 11% of the them will work for the Federal Bureaucracy.

The bureaucracy itself can be roughly divided into four groups:

  1. Executive Departments
    1. Department of the Treasury
  2. Executive Agencies
    1. Federal Bureau of Investigation
  3. Independent Regulatory Commissions
    1. Federal Election Commission
  4. Government Corporations
    1. United States Postal Service

However there can be problems of the bureaucracy. There are three main criticisms of the Federal Bureaucracy.

  1. Clientelism
  2. Imperialism
    1. Agencies seek to expand their own power at the expense of other agencies
    2. Agencies can become involved in a turf battle.
  3. Incrementalism
    1. Agencies may act slowly and cautiously, with a natural resistance to change.
    2. This argument is one that is very similar to the UK Civil Service.

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