Government Roles and Tools How big is it
Date conversion 16.05.2016 Size 20.53 Kb.
Government Roles and Tools How big is it What is it (fed-state-local etc.) What does it do How does it do it Important Terms / Concepts / Topics Discretionary spending, Entitlement program / spending Different primary policy areas of federal, state, and local governments Types of indirect tools and the definition / meaning of each: contracts / contracting out, grants, loans, regulations, tax expenditures How to View the American Federal System Traditional way: Layer cake—compartmentalized functions Marble cake—division of functions intricately mixed Kettl/Fesler: neither layer nor marble, rather, different levels of government concentrating on different services The Vast Functions of Government Case: Flu vaccine shortage What levels of government were involved in the vaccine process? What levels of government should be responsible for correcting shortages in the future?
The Federal Government Federal government concentrates spending in far fewer categories Huge increase in entitlement program spending (on programs such as Medicare, to which individuals are “entitled” by law) over last four decades Huge decrease in defense spending over the last four decades Entitlements, defense, and interest on the national debt = 89 percent of federal spending
Discretionary vs. Entitlement A large part of the federal government is responsible for writing checks. A small share of federal employees manage entitlement programs. The federal budget details what the government does but not how it does it.
State Governments Unlike federal spending, state spending patterns have remained relatively constant. States concentrate their services on welfare, higher education, and highways. States play a major banking role by receiving federal grants and administering them. Local Governments In 2002, there were more than 86,000 local governments. Unlike other levels of government, local government is singularly devoted to the direct delivery of services (services provided directly to citizens, such as police and fire protection, education, and hospital care). Primary spending is on elementary and secondary education, health, hospitals, welfare, and utilities. In 2006, local governments spent $1.4 trillion on education, which was 36 percent of total budget Local Governments are the most heavily involved in direct provision of citizen services. Government Tools Some activities can be handled directly by a single level of government or a single agency E.g. Department of State for passports But many require cooperation of multiple government levels and / or private corporations
It is possible to view government as a collection of basic tools. Direct tools: government provides goods and services, income support, interest on the national debt, direct loans. e.g., Police and fire protection Indirect tools: contracting out of government programs to nongovernmental
partners and funding grant, voucher, and loan programs.
Direct Administration Most people equate direct administration with public administration. Direct administration is only a small part of government activity at the federal level. Direct administration is more prevalent at the state and local levels.
Indirect Administration: Federal Grants Federal grants: the federal government provides financial assistance to another level of government. Grants are the oldest, most widely used tool that the federal government employs to carry out public policy. e.g., Supports states providing medical care for the poor
Indirect Administration: Contracts Contracts: the government agrees to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for a good or service. Government must set the standards for contracts, negotiate effective programs at low prices, and oversee the results that contractors produce. e.g., Construction of roads by local governments Indirect Administration: Regulations Regulations: federal compendium of rules that expand government’s power while expending relatively little money Code of Federal Regulations consists of more than 200 volumes e.g., 20 volumes of rules on agriculture
Tax Expenditures Tax expenditures: give individuals and taxpayers special advantages in paying their taxes Creates incentives for social and economic policies e.g., Tax expenditure that reduces the cost of homeownership encourages taxpayers to buy
rather than rent their homes
Loan Programs Loan programs: the federal government and, to a lesser extent, other levels of government provide financial assistance Began during the Great Depression and grew in the 1970s
Implications for Public Administration The job of government varies by level. Local: direct provider of goods and services State: intermediary as well as a direct provider of goods and services Federal: provider of national defense and has a transfer function
Implications for Public Administration (continued) The job of government varies by function. Direct provision: most administrative action is internal to the government’s bureaucracy Transfer programs: involves extensive action external to the government bureaucracy and determines the size of the check that the law entitles a recipient
Implications for Public Administration (continued) The job of government varies by who finally provides the goods and services. Difference between who provides a service, by creating and paying for it, and who produces it, by actually administering the service Government by proxy: the use of third-party agents to administer programs that the government funds Different types of programs: transfer programs, government by proxy, directly administered programs
Conclusion Government’s ability to manage is now more complex. Demonstrates an increasing reliance on indirect tools Focuses on accountability and performance measurement
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