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PSC 207: Public Administration | PSC 306: Public Organizations

Charles Goodsell, The Case for Bureaucracy (4/e)

Students' Outlines

Compiled and revised 11 Nov. 2009 by Dr. Jeremy Lewis.

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by Charles Walters, Fall ‘05
-The Bureaucracy is the organizations and their unit offices whose employees are paid from public funds, at all levels of government in the United States.
I. Goodsell stresses that there is a lot of mistrust in the American Bureaucracy from the issues such as illiterate graduates, wasted funds, and brutal welfare departments.
A. There is a positive side to this mistrust because it helps build feelings of individualism, love of liberty, and readiness to revolt to injustice.
B. The negative side of this negativity toward bureaucracy is that it discourages some of the brightest young people from entering a field of public service
II. The thesis of this book, Goodsell states, is to describe and point out the wide gap between bureaucracy’s reputation and its record. (Goodsell gives a good example of his thesis on page four)
A. Goodsell states that there is much American discouragement with the bureaucracy and a common reply that American private business is more efficient than the government bureaucracy because it must out perform its competitors—how could the government agencies compete with only appropriations and a staff that cannot be fired?
B. Bureaucracy refers to thousands of separate organizations that act more as rivals than as one aggregate mega-institution where, in fact, smaller size groups act under regular elections, representative government, and the system of constitutional law.
III. A Bit of Bureaucratic History
A. The first modern republics were the 13 original American colonies which sprang from the principle of popular sovereignty rather than the notion of divine right of kings. Bureaucracy came from the practical need of the people’s representatives to achieve aims in the common weal such as the regulation of commerce, fostering agriculture, raising armies, and providing for orphans and the insane.
B. The founders of the US Constitution knew that if government were to act, it would need an institution of action, bureaucracy
C. Trust in government declined greatly from the sixties and went below fifty percent from the eighties until Clinton’s second term.
D. Negativity towards bureaucracy has escalated in several cases to threats and acts of terrorism such as the OK bombing, the FBI sniper shootings at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in ’92, and the fire associated with the siege of the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, TX in ‘93
E. The ratings of Bureaucrats have risen in the past decade however, especially since 1996, and just after 9/11 they spiked to 78% and have not gone back down to the pre-’96 lows. WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED? Goodsell says that perhaps America has come to an age of sense where citizens take seriously the role of government agencies in their lives.
IV. The Academics Debate Bureaucracy: The Opponents
A. The angles from which bureaucracy is opposed
1. Poor Performance
2. Excessive Power
3. Oppression of the individual
B. Robert Behn, leader of economic orientated school of thought in public managements says that bureaucracy is, "plagued less by the problem of corruption than by the problem of performance."
C. Market Orientated Economists
1. opposed to government intervention in the private marketplace because it is detrimental to economic proficiency
2. distrust public ownership, government monopolies, incentive systems
3. consider that taxing and spending is also detrimental to productivity
D. Public Choice Economists
1. claims the problem with a public bureaucracy is that it is dependent on appropriations
2. "spending advocacy" is created through inflated costs and false demand when "budget maximizers" demand more funds regardless of need
E. Sociology
1. bureaucracies are destined to work against themselves, that is, to be dysfunctional
2. obsessive conformity to rules creates goal displacement
3. also considered to be rigid and incapable of innovation
F. Max Weber contends that once bureaucracy has been established it is nearly impossible to destroy.
V. The Academics Debate Bureaucracy: The Supporters
A. The efficiency between the business sector and the government often seem invidious but George Downs and Patrick Larkey note that the government does often better than the public thinks and businesses worse.
B. Eva Etzioni-Halevy concludes that bureaucrats help politicians make policy and counter their power as a bulwark against corruption
C. Dan Wood and Richard Waterman that contrary to the principal-agent and iron triangle model both the president and the Congress have power to exert control over administrative agencies
D. Barry Bozeman- "Bureaucracy is the cod liver oil of social institutions, it smells bad and leaves a nasty aftertaste, but sometimes it is just what you need.
E. Larry Preston argues that bureaucracies, both public and private, support individual freedom by giving us the ability to make choices, learn, create, and achieve higher purposes.
F. Carl Friedrich- modern elected government depends on successful bureaucracy to succeed
G. With the America of ’60 and the America of ’80 John Swartz found that poverty, health, education conditions compared to the public image were overplayed

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Goodsell Chapter 1: Bureaucracy Despised, Disparaged, and Defended
By Amanda Blessing, Fall 2005

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Ch. 2: What citizens experience from Bureaucracy:

-Surveys are used to figure out the experiences people have with bureaucracies
-1929, Earliest citizen survey conducted by Leonard D. White (he is known as a principal founder of the field of public administration)
               -survey on 4000 residents of Chicago on if people prefer employment in city or employment in private corporations
-Today citizen surveys are used by local governments to monitor their operations.
               - Thomas and Michelle Miller came up with the PTM or percent to max, which is the "degree to which the responses are collectively attained the highest point on whatever scale is used."
               -Postal service used CSM or Customer Satisfaction Measurement to ask respondents to rate the overall performance of the Postal Serivce.
Reflections on the Surveys:
-citizen assessments on specific, personal experiences with administrative agencies tend to be positive
      -Phoenix- a poll found 79% of those tested were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with local government
      -Virginia survey of public safety, parks, library serves are rated at 81-91 % as excellent or very good
-Scholars research the findings of surveys and debate them
      -could be gross exaggerations or biased questions
      -social pressures to respond positive
      -citizens do not know enough of bureaucracy to evaluate accurately
      -citizens may have low expectations on government agencies that when its barely good service its still better than what they expected
arguments against these findings:
      -always going to be a little biased
      -biases can be overridden if people are sufficiently unhappy
      - knowledge wise citizens do not have in-depth info about programs from which they are seeking service
      -many bureaucracy users are not ordinary citizens but knowledgeable professionals and business people
      -citizens views are by direct experience and it usually tells them bureaucracy works
Direct Performance:
-evaluation on how the corporation does without a survey
      -Dalbar financial firm of Boston placed test calls to corporations and tested on attitude, accommodation, knowledge, ring time, and queue time
Accomplishments of America:
- achievements have been made in recent years in social, economic, and environmental conditions
      -bureaucracy is not the only source of this accomplishment but it is in bureaucracy that all elements for social stion are brought together
      - its through bureaucracy that much of "America's collective action takes place."

Goodsell Chapter 2: What citizens expect from bureaucracy
By Amanda Blessing, Fall 2005

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Goodsell Chapter 3: More bureaucratic myths to delete
By Amanda Blessing, Fall 2005
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Ch.  4 – Ask the Impossible of Bureaucracy? Easy!
Maegan McCollum, Fall 2007

• Beginning in the Progressive Era /Especially during the 1930s & ‘60s Americans expected the government to carry the responsibility of their optimistic outlooks about progress.
• Elected officials, political activists, intellectuals, and editorial writers define the “progress” that government should make for the people.

o With expectations raised and goals set, bureaucrats are expected to reach them.
• We set bureaucracy up for failure by:
1. Assuming that progress is inevitable
2. Assign responsibility for progress to government
3. Expect unsolvable problems to be solved
4. Hand over the job of solving them to bureaucrats.
• Great complexity characterizes bureaucracy in what it is expected to do and how it is expected to do it.
o Inconsistent Tasks
o Multiple Layers of Government are involved in programs
o Depending on business firms & non-profit organizations for the completion of public policy.
James Q. Wilson—Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS)
o Vague and competing goals contribute to its weak sense of mission and low morale
o It is supposed to “keep out illegal immigrants, but let in necessary agricultural workers”, screen foreigners seeking to enter the country but allow the entry of foreign tourists, and expel illegal aliens but not “break up families, impose hardships, violate civil rights, or deprive employers of low-paid workers.”
o Wilson says that no organization can do this many contradictory things at once, especially when newspapers and congressional investigations have advocate’s of each stand pointing out the agency’s “failures.”
• In the 19th century Englishmen Sidney Smith, Thomas Carlyle, and Herbert Spencer coined the term “red tape” which has come to refer to all government that a person is fed-up with.
• A related meaning of “red tape” is when government paperwork is considered to be excessive.
o Barry Bozeman defined the term as rules that remain in force and entail a burden but do not carry out their original purpose. Such rules are of 2 types:
* “born bad”—undesirable from the start
* “go bad”—wear out with time
• The intergovernmental grant-in-aid system’s complexity hinders both the donor and recipient bureaucracies.
o Donor bureaucracies can’t directly control the activities that achieve goals for which they are accountable for. Plus, as added stress they must review applications, and release funds before legal deadlines.
o Recipient bureaucracies may not be able to act at all without funds. Time and energy goes into writing grant applications, compiling periodic reports, and submitting annual reapplications.
Two additional problems with Intergovernmental Administration
o Detailed supervision by a bureaucracy at one level of the federal system of counterpart bureaucracies at a lower level.
? Social Security Administration’s supervision of disability determination by state rehabilitative services departments
? Supervision of state employment commissions by the Federal Unemployment Insurance Service and the U.S. Employment Service.
o Mandates are another problem
? They may consist of commands attached to grants, or they may be stand-alone instructions. They may impose requirements that deal with administrative procedures, reporting, and personnel practices.
? They may also apply to specific bureaucracies
Example: all county health departments provide outpatient mental health services
• The complexity of implementation is made worse by contracting out—control over what happens is lost
o Graeme Hodge examined 129 studies and reports that in the areas of cleaning, maintenance, and refuse collection, 6 to 12% savings occur, but for other services no significant cost reductions are noticeable.
o David Van Slyke studied privatization of social services at the state level. He found that excessively close ties between government officials and contractor scan forestall ture competition among bidders for contracts.
• Non-profit organizations are sometimes used as surrogates for government;
they receive grants or contract funding from the government, as well as contributions from the private sector.
Three other forms of public action have emerged
o Public-Private Partnerships – two or more parties of private and government take on a joint project or set of activities.
o Collaborative Networks- the entities working together look at a loose framework for collaboration in an area of common concern.
o Private Organizations- private organizations perform public functions
? New York Stock Exchange is an example of this
Bureaucracy’s task is less to solve problems than to make good progress on them (headway), despite the expectations of the media or exaggerations of political rhetoric.

Goodsell Chapter 4: Ask the impossible of Bureaucracy? Easy!
By Amanda Blessing, Fall 2005

Kevin Akins, Fall 2005

Progress is an integral part of the American psyche.
After Progressive Era, Americans began to expect government to make progress for them.
Bureaucracy is hindered by elected officials, media, and activists with rhetoric, laws, and press coverage.
As a result, expectations of citizens rise.  This is easily handled if money is available. When more complex problems arise (aids, ending racism), or there is a shortage of money, the task is near impossible.

Consequence is that we set bureaucracy up for failure.
At an operational level, bureaucracies get inconsistent, contradictory, and irreconcilable tasks.

INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services)
Vague, competing goals result in weak sense of mission on low morale.
Sample contradictory goals:  “to carefully screen foreigners, but facilitate the entry of foreign tourists.”  This Dept. caught heat after 9/11 attacks, when they issued visa approval notices for two of the hijackers.  Congress had not given proper past money, so INS couldn’t update computers.

Bureaucracies also have competing expectations of government, with many “standards.”  People want the best service, but also want to save money.
Bureaucracies deal with multiple constituencies, possibly with rival groups.
Also, bureaucracies reviewed by multiple agencies: (auditors, offices, committees).

Bureaucracy referred to as having too much red tape (government with which one is disgusted—or too much gov’t. paperwork).
In end, Bureaucracy responds to the political process.

Implementaion of Government program is a problem, because Pub. Admin. answers to different governments and agencies (more organizations, more delay).
Federal Admin use legal authority, while private Admin use contacts/agreements.
[80% probability among 100 agenices is almost impossible.]

Intergovernmental Administration

Private and public sectors affect each other.
Grant-in-aids have increased in the last 30 years(most come from state revenues).
Problem:  bureaucracies grant money, but do not control the activities it funds, esp. as money passes through several hands(thus, grants may not serve intended purpose).
Inconsistency in bureaucracy supervision (at different levels) is also a problem.
Mandates – legal requirements placed by one level of gov’t. on another(sometimes attached to grants).

Intergovernmental grant system responds well to larger nations, making it responsive.  As a result, the work of bureaucrats is harder than ever.

Non-government Participation
Total federal workforce would double if jobs created by grants and contracts are included.
This indirect admin. puts government more as signatories to contracts to the private sector and dealing with businessmen.  And all things contracted out: development, testing, designs, etc.  Outsourcing is blind faith in the private sector and is also tough when dealing with specialized or unique items.
Insider connections and contract favors are also an area of scrutiny bureaucrats deal with.
Non-Profits in Bureaucracy
Public services are given for citizens, but partially funded by the gov’t. and private contributions.
This bureaucracy can target localized problems and solutions and can have a more active role.  This can have some moral or political controversy, however.

Public-Private Partnership both parites (public and private) jointly share cost, risk, and undertaking.

Collaborative Networks:  a loose network for ongoing collaboration in an area of concern.  Has multiple sectors and varying stakeholders.

Private Org. that perform Public Services
Closely follows government, but can avoid bureaucrats.  Example: NYSE.

Public has many problems with bureaucracy, but many things are areas that may not have a real answer (and public often can’t accept this).  If there is enough pressure, law will follow.
Bureaucracy doesn’t solve problems, but makes progress towards them, but many handicaps exist…and the key is to have a strong bureaucracy that grows bargaining strength over years.

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Goodsell Chapter 5: Looking closer at those bureaucrats
By K. Alexis Johnson, Fall 2009
-Counting all civilian government employees, the US has about 21 million bureaucrats.
 -every job from firefighters and state troopers to neurosurgeons and teachers
 -contrary to popular belief, many don’t sit at desks all day
-Bureaucrats are mirrors of the national population.
 -average earning of $40,228 compared to $38,612 for workers in private industry
 -Their views of crime, drugs, welfare, capital punishment, and fundamentalist religion are about  the same as the rest of the nation.
 -The areas they differ in are pro-defense, pro-space exploration, commitment to free speech, and interracial marriage.
-Yet, not all bureaucrats think the same.
 -depends on region
  -In Alabama regardless of party, bureaucrats are usually conservative.
 -depends on the department they serve in
  -“activist agencies” (Health and Human Services, etc.) are more liberal than “traditional    agencies” (Department of Treasury, Justice, etc.)
-Bureaucrats tend to participate in the political process more than other citizens.
 -more likely to belong to a civic or social group, to vote, support a candidate, or be involved with  political organizations
-Bureaucrats are more likely to uphold the rights of political and social minorities and support gender and racial equality.
-Minorities make up about 30 percent of federal employees which is very similar to the American population. [Workforce would be a better standard -- JRTL]
 -African Americans (in 2000)-17%, above their population percent by 4.2%
 -Hispanics (in 2000)- 6.6%, about half of their population percent
 -Asians (in 2000)- 4.5%, closest to representing their percentage in US population
 -Females (2000) make up 45 percent which is 6 points below their proportion in the population
-Most citizens believe that bureaucrats have certain personalities.
 -The most prominent belief is that the structure of bureaucracy itself produces a distinctive  mentality.
 -Robert Merton published “Bureaucratic Structure and Personality”
  -the nature of bureaucracy causes “an inadequate flexibility in the application of skills”
  -the need for reliability and discipline cause officials to overemphasize rules
  -the long career makes them cautious and conservative
  -the general the application of rules creates an impersonal mode of thinking
 -Bensen and Rosenberg conclude that bureaucrats feel powerless, they disregard the rules
 -Fredrick Thayer said that hierarchy creates alienation inside the individual, causing loss of  control over decisions, noncontrol over what is produced, severance of relationships with  coworkers, and finally, separation from oneself.
 -On the contrary, Hummel believes that there are good bureaucrats doing exciting work
 -[Public Choice school:] Bureaucrats are driven by a desire to expand government programs and budgets (the budget- maximizing model)
  -the desire to optimize satisfaction of personal preferences through rational action
 -In the Brehm-Gates book, Working, Shrinking, and Sabotaging, there are three theories.
  -civil servants actively pursue goals
  -bureaucracies won’t pursue goals if they disagree
  -bureaucrats will undermine policy goals they don’t approve of
Goodsell 5: Looking Closer at Those Bureaucrats
Kevin Akins, Fall 2005
Stereotypes of bureaucrats are inaccurate. This isn’t a dominate elite of white males who sit at desks all day.
  • Norton Long argues that U.S. bureaucracy is more representative of the total population than Congress. Bureaucrats come from all levels, groups, and regions.
  •  Kenneth Meier agreed in using his Gini Index (measures bureaucratic representation). The U.S. scored significantly lower than Britain, Denmark, France, Turkey, & India, indicating a close representation of the population.
  •  Bureaucrats are also comparable in salary, averaging $40,200 in 2000, compared to $38,600 in the private industry.
  • James Garand studied political views of bureaucrats & found them to be more liberal, in favor of government spending, & fewer voted for Republicans than other Americans had.
  •  Gregory Lewis found similar info, but showed top-level bureaucrats as the most liberal on such issues as abortion, capital punishment, extramarital sex, and the role of women in society.
  •  Not all bureaucrats think the same and region can be a difference, as Robert Watson found. He studied non-elected officials in four areas of Alabama. They were balanced on party affiliation, but all conservative ideologically. [See table 5-2 on p.88] The few liberal bureaucrats were ones who claimed not to use personal views when handling public programs.
  •  Political views of bureaucrats vary, depending upon what agency they serve. Traditional agency workers are more conservative than those working in civil rights or environmental agencies.
  • Political participation is heightened among bureaucrats. They vote more frequently and are more likely to join civic, social, and community groups.
  • Government employees more likely to uphold rights of political and social minorities, and to support gender & racial equality
  •  In 2000, African-Americans were 13% of U.S. population, but 17% of the Federal Executive Branch. This was true for all minorities except Hispanics, who were underrepresented in bureaucracy by 5%. [Overall, close to perfect representation].
  •  Historically, minorities and women have been setback in trying to achieve upper-level positions. This is changing, with a closer representation approaching [Hispanics behind].
  •  Minorities benefit from government employment, especially African-Americans. Private sector minority employment is lower than that of bureaucracy.
  •  Washington Post: "…black middle class is finding it hard to break out of government jobs and into the top ranks of the private sector."
  • "Personality theories"
  • Max Weber said bureaucrats are full-time, appointed, career employees who labor in a hierarchy under a regime of specialization and rules.
  •  Whether by initial self-selection or by later socialization, the bureaucrat possesses a particular turn of mind and pattern of conduct [signs of this in large private businesses].
  • Robert Merton wrote Bureaucratic Structure and Personality. This had four principal traits produced:
    1. Inadequate flexibility in the application of skills
    2. Need for reliability and discipline
    3. Lengthy careers cause conservatism, cautiousness, & position protection
    4. Impersonal, categorical mode of thinking
    Also, "Law of Increasing Conservatism" says bureaucrats become change avoiders and remain fixed in their positions as they grow older. Motivations
    Market economists cannot forecast what motivates bureaucrats. [They don't work in a liquid market]
  •  Professional ethic: A belief in the worth and mission of the bureaucrat’s agency, the professional environment, & concept of public service are important.
  •  Working, Shirking, and Sabotage – bureaucrats are influenced by who they are, which leads to conscientious, dedicated goal-seeking.
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    Chapter 6: Bureaucratic Bigness and Badness Reconsidered
    By Todd Adams, Fall 2007

    Categorizes the issue of bureaucratic expansion into four sections-

     1. bureaucratic size
    2. growth and aging
    3. political power
    4. political contributions
    The Size of Bureaucracy-
    • Federal agencies employ 21 million citizens and compose 15% of the workforce, very few large-scale organizations exist. Military- 1.4M, USPS- 850k.
    • The majority of large-scale organizations are represented by agency headquarters located in large urban areas. Baltimore, MD SSA- 10k, Washington D.C. DVA- 5k, Dept of Treasury- 15k.
    • The most common misconception about bureaucratic size is that citizens emphasize the actual bigness of government offices and facilities where they visit or work instead of personnel.
    • Goodsell’s data on the amount of employees for American local public welfare offices and Social Security offices debunks the misconception that all federal agencies are huge.
    • The study on local public welfare offices found that 76% contain fewer than 100 employees, and only 2% employ more than 1,000 workers.
    • The study on Social Security offices found that 90% of staffs have less than 100 individuals and only 10 offices employ more than 1,000 workers.
    Growth, Aging, and Badness-
    • Although most federal agencies have consistently grown over the past few decades, survey’s reveal that counties with more employees administer superior services.
    • The lack of market pressure and overall failure to adhere to the business ideal of constantly increasing productivity and cutting costs encourages bureaucratic expansion.
    • Goodsell also provides data from a survey that collected program performance measurement data instead of citizen’s opinion of government and found that productivity was substantially greater in larger cities.
    • Another common misconception about bureaucratic power is that they constantly die off and later return in an alternate form.
    • A study of bureaucratic mortality found that since 1923, 85% of civilian organizations of the federal government have remained in existence.
    • Extensively researched the causes of bureaucratic death and concluded that program completion, changes in leadership and policy, and completion of mission were the major reasons.
    The Political Power of Bureaucracy-
    4 main ideas that support the case as to why federal agencies are so powerful.
    1. Weberian organizational form- A unified hierarchy concentrates control and a tenured workforce cannot be removed or permanently held accountable.
    2. The principle function of implementing law and policy for governmental organizations represents the sovereignty of the state to citizens in concrete, everyday terms. The State is the Bureaucracy.
    3. The technical nature of federal agencies means that legislators and other elected officials must delegate flexible authority or even rule-making power to the bureaucrats, who essentially become legislators themselves.
    4. Principal-Agent theory- Information favoring the agent gives them the ability to outmaneuver their principals and pursue their own objectives. Also, the changing political conditions give bureaucrats added opportunities to veer from policy.
    The Political Contribution of Bureaucracy-
    Describes six political contributions of federal agencies in Brian Cook’s book, Bureaucracy and Self-Government.
                  Enhance System Capacity to function            Action Sustainability over time
    Resources                          1                                                             2
    Decisions                            3                                                             4
    Citizens                              5                                                             6
    1. Fueling the system- Generating funds for the work of government. Is the most important bureaucratic contribution (IR$)
    2. Sustaining the mission and believing in their agencies’ mission is important for expansion to be successful. (police departments, school districts, public health departments)
    3. Making Elections Count-The election process and respectable candidates’ platforms encourage democracy. (Puerto Rican democracy in 1940s under Munoz)
    4. Intervening in Policy- Federal agents have the authority to influence policy making as well as implementing policy. (NYC bureaucracies’ response on 9/11)
    5. Fostering Upward mobility- Organizations must foster improvements in social status. (public schools, armed forces)
    6. Promote civic participation in community organizations. (G.I. Bill- helping veterans learn vocational skills to engage in civic participation. Volunteer service- VISTA, AmeriCorps, Natl. Civilian Community Corps)

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    Goodsell Chapter 6: Bureaucratic Bigness and Badness Reconsidered
    By Amanda Blessing, Fall 2005

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    John Martin, Fall 2005

    Goodsell divides the issue of bureaucratic expansion into four sections: bureaucratic size, growth and aging, political power, and political contributions.

    I. The Size of Bureaucracy

    II. Growth, Aging, and Badness III. The Political Power of Bureaucracy IV. The Political Contribution of Bureaucracy
  • Goodsell describes the various political contributions of federal agencies through author Brian Cook’s list of six elements.
  • Fueling the system, or generating funds for the work of government, is the most important bureaucratic contribution.
  • Sustaining and believing in their agencies’ mission is important for expansion to be successful.
  • The election process and respectable candidates’ platforms encourage democracy.
  • Federal agents have the authority to influence policy making as well as implementing policy.
  • Organizations must foster improvements in social status.
  • Agencies promote citizen involvement in community organizations.
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    Goodsell Chapter 7: Fads and Fundamentals of Bureaucracy
    By Amanda Blessing, Fall 2005

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