The Bureaucracy Chapter Summary

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Staffing the Bureaucracy

There are two categories of bureaucrat: political appointees and civil servants. Political appointees are selected to the top positions in the government by the president. The average term of a political appointee is two years. The career civil servants, who make up the bulk of the bureaucracy, can afford to wait out political appointees that they do not agree with. The federal civil service began in 1789 with a so-called natural aristocracy of society’s “best citizens.” When Andrew Jackson became President, he implemented the spoils system by awarding government jobs to his political supporters and friends. In 1883 the Civil Service Reform Act (also known as the Pendleton Act) brought about substantial reform by replacing the spoils system with a merit system. This legislation created the Civil Service Commission to administer the personnel service. In 1939, the Hatch Act was passed to protect government workers from political manipulation. Finally, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 created the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to improve the quality of individuals hired by agencies and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to regulate the relations between agencies and employees.

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