Gov Federal Bureaucracy


Bureaucratic Agency1
A bureaucracy is a method of organizing people and work, based on the principles of hierarchical authority, job specialization, and formalized rules. As a form of organization, a bureaucracy is the most efficient means of getting people to work together on tasks of great magnitude and complexity. It is also a form of organization that is prone to waste and rigidity, which is why efforts are always being made to reform it.

The United States could not be governed without a large federal bureaucracy. The day-to-day work of the federal government, from mail delivery to provision of social security to international diplomacy, is done by federal agencies. Federal employees work in roughly four hundred major agencies, including cabinet departments, independent agencies, regulatory agencies, government corporations, and presidential commissions. Yet the bureaucracy is more than simply an administrative giant. Administrators have discretion when making policy decisions. In the process of implementing policy, they make important policy and political choices.

The federal bureaucracy is organized into departments, agencies, boards, commissions, corporations, and advisory committees. The 15 cabinet departments include the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. The president appoints each department’s secretary, undersecretary, and assistant secretaries. Each department has bureaus or agencies within it. The federal bureaucracy also includes more than 100 independent organizations that are not part of the departments. Examples of independent agencies include the Social Security Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Some independent agencies are government corporations, such as the United States Postal Service, Amtrak, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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