Part I: the ap united states government course examination



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WHO ARE THE BUREAUCRATS?


Bureaucrats work in the executive branch in the fourteen cabinet-level departments and in the more than fifty independent agencies, including about 2,000 bureaus, offices, services, and other subdivisions of the government. The five biggest employers are the Departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Postal Service. A total of about 3.2 million civilians and 1.8 million military are employed by the executive branch of the federal government.

Most people still think of a bureaucrat as being a white, middle-aged man, but the permanent bureaucracy today is more representative of the American people than are members of Congress, judges, or presidential appointees in the executive branch.



Consider the following statistics for federal civilian employees:

  • About 57% are male, 43% are female.

  • About 73% are white, 27% are minority (includes blacks, Asians, native Americans, and Hispanics).

  • About 33% are hired by the Defense Department, 26% by the Postal Service, and 41% in other agencies.

  • Only about 10% work in the Washington area, 90% work in other parts of the United States.

  • The average age is about 42.

  • The number of federal employees per 1,000 people in the U.S. population has decreased from over 14 in the early 1970s to a little over 10 by the late 1990s.

  • Bureaucrats hold a huge variety of jobs, but most federal employees are white-collar workers, such as secretaries, clerks, lawyers, inspectors, and engineers.

  • Nearly 20,000 federal civilian employees work in U.S. territories, and another 100,000 work in foreign nations.

THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BUREAUCRACY


Agencies of the executive branch may be organized into four basic types:

THE CABINET DEPARTMENTS


Each of the fifteen cabinet departments is headed by a secretary, except for the Department of Justice, which is headed by the attorney general. All of the heads are chosen by the President and approved by the Senate, and each manages a specific policy area. Responsibility is further divided among undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, who manage various agencies. The fifteen cabinet departments, in order of creation, are:

  • The Department of State (founded in 1789)

  • The Department of Treasury (founded in 1789)

  • The Department of Defense (created in 1947, but replaced the Department of War, founded in 1789)

  • The Department of Justice (created in 1870 to serve the attorney general, a position created by George Washington in 1789)

  • The Department of the Interior (created in 1849)

  • The Department of Agriculture (created in 1862)

  • The Department of Commerce (created in 1903 as the Department of Commerce and Labor)

  • The Department of Labor (separated from the Department of Commerce in 1913)

  • The Department of Health

  • and Human Services (created as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953)

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (created in 1966)

  • The Department of Transportation (created in 1966)

  • The Department of Energy (created in 1977)

  • The Department of Education (separated from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1979)

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (created in 1988)

  • The Department of Homeland Security (created in 2002)

Each department is organized somewhat differently, but the real work of a department usually is done in the bureaus (sometimes called services, offices, or administrations). Until the 1970s, the largest department was the Department of Defense, but today the Department of Health and Human Services spends more money, although the Department of Defense still has more employees.

THE 2004 INTELLIGENCE BILL

In late 2004 President George W. Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act that called for the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s intelligence-gathering apparatus in a half-century. The legislation created a position for a Director of National Intelligence, a move recommended by a special commission that spent 20 months investigating the pre-September 11, 2002 intelligence failures. The legislation put 15 intelligence agencies under the control of the director, including the CIA and the FBI, and it created a National Counterterrorism Center to serve as the primary organization that processes all terrorism-related intelligence. The reorganization will impact many of the cabinet departments, as well as the operation of several independent agencies.


THE INDEPENDENT REGULATORY AGENCIES


These agencies regulate important parts of the economy, making rules for large industries and businesses that affect the interests of the public. Because regulatory commissions are watchdogs that by their very nature need to operate independently, they are not part of a department, and most are not directly controlled by the President. Some examples are:

The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) - Founded in 1887, the ICC is the oldest of the regulatory agencies. It first regulated railroads, but now oversees trucking as well.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - The FTC regulates business practices and controls monopolies

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) - The NLRB regulates labor-management relations.

The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) - The FRB governs banks and regulates the supply of money.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - The SEC polices the stock market.

The regulatory agencies are governed by small commissions - five to ten members appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. These commissioners are somewhat more "independent" than are the cabinet secretaries because they cannot be removed by the president during their terms of office.



THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS

Government corporations are a blend of private corporation and government agency. They were created to allow more freedom and flexibility than exists in regular government agencies. They have more control over their budgets, and often have the right to decide how to use their own earnings. Since they still ultimately are controlled by the government, they do not operate like true private corporations.

Some examples are:



  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting - This controversial government corporation still operates public radio and television stations. Although largely funded by private donations, the government still provides policies and money to support their programs.

  • The Tennessee Valley Authority - This corporation was created as one of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs. Its mission is to harness the power of the Tennessee River to protect farmlands and provide cheap electricity.

  • The U.S. Postal Service - The post office is a corporation that competes with private services.

  • Amtrak - Congress created Amtrak to provide railroad passenger service that is heavily subsidized by the federal government. Part of the motivation for its creation was the lack of private companies providing the service, and Amtrak has suffered some huge financial losses. Recently, in an attempt to make the corporation more profitably, Congress has allowed Amtrak to drop some of its less popular routes.

INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE AGENCIES

Other agencies that do not fall into the first three categories are called independent executive agencies. Independent agencies closely resemble Cabinet departments, but they are smaller and less complex. Generally, they have narrower areas of responsibility than do cabinet departments. Most of these agencies are subject to presidential control and are independent only in the sense that they are not part of a department. Their main function is not to regulate, but to fulfill a myriad of other administrative responsibilities.

Some well known examples are


  • The General Services Administration (GSA) - The GSA operates and maintains federal properties, handling buildings, supplies, and purchasing.

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) - The NSF supports scientific research.

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - NASA administers the United States space program, financing ventures into space since 1958.

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