Bureaucracy and the Policy Process

POLS 330 – Fall 2004


I.  Introduction                                                                                                                                  

In order to adequately evaluate the American political environment one must take on, as political scientists, the challenge of understanding bureaucracy.  In this course, we will examine a number of questions surrounding public bureaucracies, including:  What is the origin of the American bureaucratic system?  How has it progressed and evolved into its current form?  Why are bureaucrats reviled in some instances and revered in others?  How can or should unelected government officials be made more accountable to their elected counterparts and to the citizens they serve?  Is it accurate, or even fair, to carve out public bureaucracy as the “fourth branch of government?” 


In addressing these and many other questions, we will rely heavily on the study of real-life cases in several areas of public policy, including homeland security, education, the environment, law enforcement, and social welfare.


II.  Contact and Meeting Information                                                                                                           


Trent Davis

Office: Zulauf 424

Phone: 753-7051 (office)

E-mail: tdavis2@niu.edu

Office Hours: MWF 10:00 to 11:00am, or by appointment


Class meetings

MWF 11:00 to 11:50am, DU459


III.  Required Course Materials                                                                                                                     

The following textbooks are required for this course:





IV.  Course Assignments and Grading Policy                                                                                                                                     

This section provides an outline of the assignments/exams required for this course and the weight
(i.e., percentage of your grade) each exercise will carry.


Attendance/Participation          10%                

Midterm Exam                         20%                

Cumulative Final Exam            35%                

Presentation and Memo            15%                

Research Paper                         20%                



The following grading scale will be utilized:

90 – 100%       A

80 – 89%         B

70 – 79%         C

60 – 69%         D

Below 60%      F


V.  Presentation and Memo Assignment                                                                                            

As mentioned in the introduction, this course will rely heavily upon the use of case studies.  These studies revolve around topical examples drawn from the world of bureaucratic politics and performance.  We will discuss significant and/or illustrative events in the history of American governance, such as impossible or implausible jobs, success stories, and ignominies.



First, working together in groups, you will provide the class with a 15 – 20 minute presentation covering one of the case studies.  In brief, your job as a group will be to provide the class with a succinct summary of each article or chapter in the case study, an analysis of the problem(s) and question(s) being presented, the relationship that these problems and questions have to other course materials (i.e., required readings and core theories), and the steps necessary to resolve these problems and questions.  When preparing your presentation, you are encouraged to utilize the various technologies at your disposal, such as Power Point or handouts.  Ultimately, it is up to each group to decide the best way in which to present their case study material.  There is, however, one exception: each group member must actively engage in the development, presentation, and discussion processes.  


After the presentation, the group will open the floor up to the rest of the class.  The presenting students will be expected to moderate this discussion by answering any questions concerning the case study materials and/or theories presented.  Please bear in mind that the readings contained in the case studies and the information presented in class is considered testable.  Therefore, during these discussions all students will be expected to demonstrate 1) successful mastery of the facts and 2) the ability to draw broader lessons from the case study materials.  In addition, it is during these in-class discussions that a significant portion of the class participation grade will be awarded.



In addition to the presentation, each group member is required to draft a memo analyzing the relationship between the real-life example and theory.  Be sure to discuss the following points:  Which theory or theories does the real-life example support and why?  Which theory or theories does the real-life example reject and why?  Does the administrative behavior being discussed lend itself favorably to our conventional understanding of public bureaucracy and why or why not?


When addressing the abovementioned points be sure to provide a brief summary of each theory you chose to discuss.  However, please note that the bulk of your memo should be comprised of your own analysis, rather than a summation of theories.


Your memo should conform to the following guidelines:




VI.  Research Paper                                                                                                                           

The primary writing assignment for this course is an 8 – 10 page formal research paper (be sure to follow the standard paper format provided below).  I must approve your topic in advance; however, you may essentially write on any topic related to bureaucracy and an area of public policy that you so choose.  A paragraph in which you clearly state the proposed topic for your term paper is due on September 24.  The final paper is due on November 22.  In general, late papers will not be accepted.  Please note: You are not to do your term paper on the same topic as your presentation/memo.


Your research paper should conform to the following guidelines:











VII.  Undergraduate Writing Awards                                                                                                           

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300 - 400 level political science courses or directed studies.  Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing.  Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00.  Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28.  All copies should have two cover pages – one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name.  Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award.  However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.


IIX.  Academic Integrity                                                                                                                    

Honesty is the essence of the intellectual life of the university.  Students, who copy the work of another on an examination, an assignment, a paper, are guilty of cheating.  The misrepresentation of another's work as your own, copying material from books, magazines, or other resources without acknowledgement and identification of those sources is plagiarism.  If a student is guilty of either cheating or plagiarism, or of assisting other students in cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, paper, quiz, or examination, the student may receive a grade of F for the course and may be suspended or dismissed from the university.  Please consult the University’s website if you have further questions concerning this policy. 


IX.  Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities                                                                                   

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building.  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


X.  Department of Political Science Website                                                                                     

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website on a regular basis.  This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities.  To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.ed.


XI.  Weekly Class Schedule                                                                                                                

Week 1:  Rise of the American Administrative State

Monday, August 23

Course Introduction


Wednesday, August 25

The American Administrative State

Read:  Rosenbloom, chapter 2 and ‘skim over’ chapter 3


Friday, August 27

The American Administrative State, cont.


Week 2:  Politics-Administration Dichotomy, Part I

Monday, August 30

The American Administrative State, cont.

Overview of the Blackboard Course Server and case study sign-up


Wednesday, September 1

Public Administration Theory: A primer

Read:  Wilson, W. (1887), “The Study of Administration” pgs. 197-222 [on-line] and
Goodnow, F. (1900), “Politics and Administration: A Study of government” pgs. 1-22 [packet]


Friday, September 3

Public Administration Theory:  A primer, cont.

Read:  Svara, J. (1985), “Dichotomy and Duality:  Reconceptualizing the Relationship between Policy and Administration in Council-Manager Cities” pgs. 221-232 [on-line]


Week 3: Politics-Administration Dichotomy, Part II

Monday, September 6

Labor Day – No Class


Wednesday, September 8

The Revisionist Debate

Read: Martin, D. (1988), “The Fading Legacy of Woodrow Wilson” pgs. 631-636 [on-line] and
Svara, J. (1998), “The Politics-Administration Dichotomy Model as Aberration” pgs. 51-57
and Svara, J. (2001), “The Myth of the Dichotomy: Complementarity of Politics and Administration in the Past and Future of Public Administration” pgs. 176-183 [on-line] 


Friday, September 10

Case Study I: Waco  

Read: Case I material from packet


Week 4: American Bureaucracy: Size and Structure

Monday, September 13

Federal structure, size of the American bureaucracy, organization theory

Read: Meier, pgs. 15-19 and Rosenbloom, chapter 4


Wednesday, September 15

Federal structure, size of the American bureaucracy, organization theory, cont.

Internal and external sources of power

Read: Meier, pgs. 48-67


Friday, September 17

Case Study II: Homeland Security: Then and Now 

Read: Case II material from packet


Week 5: Public Personnel Systems

Monday, September 20

Public Personnel Administration and Collective Bargaining

Read: Meier, pgs. 29-37 and Rosenbloom, chapter 5


Wednesday, September 22

Public Personnel Administration and Collective Bargaining, cont.


Friday, September 24

Case Study III: Impossible Jobs: Part 1 

Read: Case III material from packet

Research Topic Proposals Due


Week 6: Budgeting and Finance

Monday, September 27

Size and growth of budgets, budgetary process

Read: Rosenbloom, pgs. 259-291


Wednesday, September 29

Theories of budgeting

Read: Rosenbloom, pgs. 291-309


Friday, October 1

Case Study IV: Internal Revenue Service: 1998 Reforms 

Read: Case IV material from packet


Week 7: Policy Typologies

Monday, October 4

Regulatory and Redistributive Policy

Read: Meier, pgs. 69-87


Wednesday, October 6

Distributive and Constituent Policy

Read: Meier, pgs. 88-102


Friday, October 8

Case Study V: Welfare Reform 

Read: Case V material from packet


Week 8: Decision Making

Monday, October 11

Decision Making Models

Read: Rosenbloom, chapter 7


Wednesday, October 13

Decision Making Models, cont.

Mid-term Q & A


Friday, October 15

MID-TERM EXAM – Bring Blue Book


Week 9: The Public’s Expectations of Bureaucracy

Monday, October 18

The public’s expectations and perceptions of bureaucracy

Read: Meier, chapter 5 and Rosenbloom, chapter 10


Wednesday, October 20

The public’s expectations and perceptions of bureaucracy, cont.


Friday, October 22

Case Study VI: Impossible Jobs: Part II 

Read: Case VI material from packet


Week 10: Controlling the Bureaucracy: Part I

Monday, October 25

External controls

Read: Meier, chapter 6


Wednesday, October 27

External controls, cont.


Friday, October 29

Case Study VII: Reagan and the EPA 

Read: Case VII material from packet


Week 11: Controlling Bureaucracy: Part II

Monday, November 1

Accountability and ethics

Read: Meier, chapter 7 and Rosenbloom, chapter 12


Wednesday, November 3

Accountability and ethics, cont.

ICMA code of ethics


Friday, November 5

Case Study IIX: Impossible Jobs: Part III 

Read: Case IIX material from packet


Week 12: Public Administration and Democratic Constitutionalism

Monday, November 8

Administrative Structure v. Constitutional Structure

Read: Rosenbloom, pgs. 477-485


Wednesday, November 10

Constitutional values, constitutional law

Read Rosenbloom, pgs. 485-514


Friday, November 12

Case Study IX: Bureaucracy and Education

Read: Case IX material from packet


Week 13: Reforming the Bureaucracy: The Case

Monday, November 15

Constitutional values, constitutional law, cont.


Wednesday, November 17

Reforming the American system of bureaucracy

Read: Meier, chapter 8


Friday, November 19

Case Study X: Foster Care: New York

Read: Case X material from packet


Week 14: Reforming the Bureaucracy: The Future, Part I

Monday, November 22

Reforming the American system of bureaucracy

Read: Meier, chapter 8 and Rosenbloom, chapter 13

Research Papers Due


Wednesday, November 24

Thanksgiving Holiday – No class


Friday, November 26

Thanksgiving Holiday – No class


Week 15: Reforming the Bureaucracy: The Future, Part II

Monday, November 29

The National Performance Review

Read: Osborne, D. and Gaebler, T. (1992), “Reinventing Government” chapter 11 [packet] and DeLeon, L. and Denhardt, R. (2000), “The Political Theory of Reinvention” pgs. 89-97 [on-line]


Wednesday, December 1

Course Wrap-up

Final Exam Q & A


Friday, December 3

Study Day – No class


FINAL EXAM – TBA, Bring Blue Book



Please note:  The instructor reserves the right to change the course schedule/requirements as necessary.