Bureaucracy and Bureaucrats

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Bureaucracy and Bureaucrats

Americans depend on government bureaucracies to accomplish most of what we expect from government, and we are oftentimes critical of a bureaucracy’s handling of its responsibilities. Bureaucracy is essential for carrying out the tasks of government. As government bureaucracies grew in the twentieth century, new management techniques sought to promote greater efficiency. The reorganization of the government to create the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush administration’s simultaneous push to contract out jobs to private employers raises the question as to whether the government or the private sector can best manage our national security. Ironically, the criticism of the bureaucracy may be a product of the nature of the organization itself.

I. Why do bureaucracies exist? Why are they needed?

Bureaucracy is nothing more or less than a form of organization defined by certain attributes, including a division of labor, allocation of functions, allocation of responsibility, supervision, the purchase of full-time employment, and the identification of career within the organization. Bureaucracy literally means “rule by desks”; in other words, a government by clerks. The goals of a bureaucracy are efficiency and productivity, which are gained through specialization and repetition of tasks. The basic characteristics that define the concept of bureaucracy are found in virtually all organizations, whether public or private, military or religious, for profit or nonprofit. Most organizations are bureaucracies, and most of their employees are bureaucrats. II. Has the federal bureaucracy grown too large?

Despite the general belief that the federal bureaucracy has grown too large and unresponsive, the size of the federal bureaucracy has declined over the past thirty years and presidents of both parties have called for the trend to continue. Since the 9/11 attacks, government spending has dramatically increased but is not much...
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