Bureaucracy and the Policy Process

POLS 330 – Fall 2005


I. Introduction

In order to adequately evaluate the American political environment, as a political scientist one must take on 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? Do unelected government officials “make” policy and, if so, what is the policy process? 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 on the blending of classic and contemporary public administration theory. Also, we will discuss 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 J. Davis

Office: DuSable 476

Phone: (815) 753-1818

E-mail: tdavis2@niu.edu

Office Hours: T/Th 10:45 to 11:45am, or by appointment


Class meetings

T/Th 9:30 to 10:45am, DuSable 459


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 point value each exercise will carry. In addition, an overview of each assignment/exam has been provided below.


Participation/Attendance             50                  The following grading scale will be utilized:

Meeting/Presentation/Paper         100                 405 - 450         A

Book Review                             100                 360 - 404         B

Midterm Exam                          100                  315 - 359         C

Cumulative Final Exam              100                  270 - 314         D

                                                450pts              Below 270        F



Students are strongly encouraged to attend all regularly scheduled class lectures and any special study sessions or exam review periods that may occur. It is also expected that students will arrive to class on time and remain for the duration of the class period (unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor). In addition, students should come to class prepared and make every effort to become actively engaged in the class discussion. Please note: Unnecessary disruptions (including, but not limited to, arriving late to class) will not be tolerated.


The participation/attendance grade will be based on the frequency of a student’s attendance and his or her level of participation (including in-class group exercises and short take-home assignments). Two (2) or more unexcused absences will result in a 10-point grade deduction; moreover, an additional 5 points will be assessed for each unexcused absence thereafter. Excused absences, so long as the class attendance policy is adhered to, will not count against a student’s grade. Bear in mind that it is up to the student to provide the instructor with advance notice (whenever possible) and the proper documentation (within 48 hours) validating a student’s absence from class.


Group Meeting/Presentation/Paper

Over the course of the semester, we will make extensive use of the Goodsell text The Case for Bureaucracy: A Public Administration Polemic. On or around the third week of class, each student will be assigned to a small group (more detail regarding the sign-up procedure will be provided in class). For this assignment, each student will be required to participate in one small group meeting outside of class with the instructor. During this meeting, we will engage in an analysis and discussion of one chapter of the Goodsell text. It should be noted that a concerted effort will be made to schedule these meetings at varying locations and on varying days and times, thus reducing the risk of conflicting schedules.


On the class period following your group’s meeting, your group will be responsible for making a short (i.e., 5 to 10 minute) presentation summarizing the key points and important concepts contained within the chapter. In addition to the oral presentation, each group will be responsible for providing a concise written summary of their assigned chapter to every member of the class. The summary should be no more than 1 to 2 pages, single-spaced, in 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, with 1” margins. Following the presentation, the instructor will lead the class in a discussion of the chapter, whereby all students will be called upon and expected to participate.


Grading: For this assignment, half of your grade (i.e., 50 points) will be based on the small group meeting. The other half will be based on the presentation and summary paper.


Book Review

Each student is required to submit a book review that examines a book related to some aspect of bureaucracy and public policy. The book review provides the opportunity to both read and reflect upon a classic or contemporary work in the field of public administration. The book review is due on
November 22
. Late papers will not be accepted without severe penalty.


The book review should conform to the following guidelines:


  1. Include a title page containing your name, date submitted, and a citation for the book being reviewed.


  1. The first section should be a two to three page description of the book’s key themes and ideas. It is not necessary to address every theme; rather, you should identify those you feel are most important for clarifying the author’s purpose. Begin this section with the subhead Identification of Key Themes.


  1. The second section should be a three to four page critique of the book. The critique should be both positive and negative, as well as evaluative. In other words, do not simply repeat what you discussed in the first section; rather, develop your assessment of the author’s key themes. For example, you may examine: How do the ideas presented by the author stack up intellectually? Do they make sense when you compare them with your own perception of reality? Make sure to give examples and back-up your arguments when necessary. Begin this section with the subhead Critical Analysis.


  1. The book review must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, with 1” margins. Also, be sure to use a style guide, such as MLA or APA, consistently throughout the paper.


  1. It is strongly recommended that each student take his or her paper to the University’s Writing Center. While much of your grade will be based on the substance of your work, quality of grammar and style should by no means be overlooked. Visiting the Writing Center is not mandatory; however, students who choose to take advantage of this resource will receive an automatic 5-point increase on their book review grade. The Writing Center is located in Stevenson Towers South, Lower Level. For more information or to make an appointment
    call 753-6636.         


Provided below is a list of recommended books. For this class, however, you may review any book that you choose, so long as I have granted you the prior approval to do so.


Carolyn Ban, How Do Public Managers Manage?, Jossey Bass, 1995.

Barry Bozeman, Bureaucracy and Red Tape, Prentice Hall, 2000.

John Brehm & S. Gates, Working, Shirking, and Sabotage, Michigan, 1997.

Dan Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks, and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862-1928, Princeton, 2001.

John Chubb & T. Moe, Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools, Brookings, 1990.

Steven Cohen & R. Brand, Total Quality Management in Government, Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Brian Cook, Bureaucracy and Self-Government, Johns Hopkins, 1996.

Robert Denhardt, In the Shadow of Organization, Kansas, 1989.

Anthony Downs, Inside Bureaucracy, Little Brown, 1967.

George Frederickson, New Public Administration, Alabama, 1980.

Marissa Golden, What Motivates Bureaucrats, Columbia, 2000.

Samuel Krislov, Representative Bureaucracy, Prentice-Hall, 1974.

John Heinz, E. Lauman, R. Nelson & R. Salisbury, The Hollow Core, Harvard, 1993.

Daniel Katz & R. Kahn, The Social Psychology of Organizations, Wiley, 1966.

Herbert Kaufman, The Forest Ranger, Hopkins, 1960.

George Krause, A Two-Way Street: The Institutional Dynamics of the Modern Administrative State, Pittsburgh, 1999.

Mary Kweit & R. Kweit, Implementing Citizen Participation in a Bureaucratic Society, Praeger, 1981.

Paul Light, The New Public Service, Brookings, 1999.

Paul Light, Thickening Government, Brookings, 1995.

Michael Lipsky, Street Level Bureaucracy, Russell Sage, 1983.

Terry Moe, Schools, Vouchers, and the American Public, Brookings, 2001.

David Osborne & T. Gaebler, Reinventing Government, Addison-Wesley, 1992.

David Osborne & P. Plastrik, Banishing Bureaucracy, Plume/Pengiun, 1997.

Jeffrey Pressman & A. Wildavsky, Implementation, California, 1973.

Emmette Redford, Democracy and the Administrative State, Oxford, 1985.

Randall Ripley & G. Franklin, Congress, the Bureaucracy and Public Policy, Dorsey, 1990.

E.S. Savas, Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships, Chatham House, 2000.

Sally Selden, The Promise of Representative Bureaucracy, M.E.Sharpe, 1997.

Hindy Schachter, Reinventing Government or Reinventing Ourselves, SUNY Press, 1997.

Herbert Simon, Administrative Behavior, Macmillan, 1947.

Herbert Simon, Red Tape, Brookings, 1977.

Kevin Smith & K. Meier, The Case Against School Choice: Politics, Markets, and Fools, M.E.Sharpe, 1995.

Dwight Waldo, The Administrative State, Ronald, 1948.

James Wilson, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It, Basic Books, 1991.

Dan Wood & R. Waterman, Bureaucratic Dynamics: The Role of Bureaucracy in a Democracy, Westview, 1994.


Midterm and Final Examinations

There will be a midterm and a final exam. Both exams will consist of any combination of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions. The format for the midterm and final exam will be closed-book/note. The midterm exam is scheduled for October 13 and the final exam is scheduled for December 8. The format for the final exam will differ from the midterm in that it will be cumulative in nature; however, material covered during the second half of the semester will be emphasized.


Extra Credit

Students wishing to earn extra credit may speak to the instructor regarding the opportunity to make a short (i.e., 10 minute) class presentation regarding some aspect of bureaucracy and public policy. In order to earn extra credit, you must demonstrate both an interest in and knowledge of your topic. Depending on the quality of your presentation, up to 10-points may be earned. Please see me for further details.


V. Undergraduate Writing Awards              

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300 and 400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing; however, 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.


VI. Academic Integrity and Rules of Decorum                                                                                

Honesty is the essence of the intellectual life of the University. Students who copy the work of another on an assignment, paper, quiz, or examination 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 plagiarizing, or of assisting other students in cheating or plagiarizing on an assignment, paper, quiz, or examination, the student may receive a grade of “F” for the course and be suspended or dismissed from the University. Please consult the University’s website, the Student Judicial Code, or speak to the course instructor if you have further questions concerning this policy.


In addition to the University’s Rules of Decorum, there are a few additional policies that I would like each student to observe.


Always demonstrate courtesy and respect toward all others in class. This includes respecting the opinions of others and refraining from talking while they are speaking.


Make every effort to come to class on time and be prepared. Habitual tardiness will not be tolerated, as it is an unfair disruption to all others in the class.

If you must leave the class early, please let me know before class begins. Leaving and then returning to class, unless for a valid and necessary reason, will not be tolerated.


Turn off ALL electronic devices (i.e., cell phones, pagers, PDAs) prior to entering class. If you accidentally leave a phone on and it rings during class, do not answer it. Hang up the phone.


While the class is in progress, do not read newspapers or books for another class. Moreover, do not engage in side conversations with other students in the class.


During an exam, there are to be no electronic devices, including but not limited to cell phones, pagers, and PDAs, left on or visible to you or I. If for any reason you are caught with an electronic device during an exam, you will receive an automatic “F” on the exam and be turned into to the University for academic misconduct.


During an exam, all backpacks, briefcases, purses, and etcetera are to be closed and stored under your seat. If for any reason during the exam you must access one of these items, raise your hand and let me know prior to doing so.


VII. 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.


VIII. 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.edu.


IX. Weekly Class Schedule                                                                                                                

Week 1: Rise of the American Administrative State

Tuesday, August 23

Course Introduction


Thursday, August 25

Overview of the American Administrative State

American Bureaucracy defined

Why do we study bureaucracy?

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 1 and Goodsell, chapter 1


Week 2: The Nature of Governmental Activity

Tuesday, August 30

The American Administrative State, continued

Size of the American bureaucracy and the “shadow government”

Myths and realities about bureaucracy

Identifying our own perceptions of bureaucracy

Overview of the Blackboard Course Server


Thursday, September 1

The functions and tools of government

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 2


Week 3: Politics-Administration Dichotomy

Tuesday, September 6

Conclude discussion on the rise of American Administrative state and the nature of governmental activity

Initial impressions of the bureaucracy’s job


Thursday, September 8

What is the Politics-Administration Dichotomy? Why does it matter?

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


Week 4: Politics-Administration Dichotomy, continued

Tuesday, September 13

Small group exercise – bring readings from 9/8 & 9/13 with you to class.

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


Thursday, September 15

Conclude discussion on the Politics-Administration Dichotomy and revisionist debate

Begin overview of the policy process


Week 5: The Policy Process

Tuesday, September 20

Overview of the policy process, continued

Bureaucracy as a policy making institute, a “fourth branch” of government?

Our model of bureaucratic policy making


Thursday, September 22

Class canceled

Homework: Review Goodsell, chapter 1 in anticipation of the small group meetings


Week 6: Policy Typologies

Tuesday, September 27

Regulatory, Redistributive, Distributive, and Constituent Policy

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 12


Thursday, September 29

Conclude discussion on policy typologies


Week 7: Decision Making Models

Tuesday, October 4

Decision Making models – is accuracy possible?

Overview of most prominent models of decision making

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 9 (first half)


Thursday, October 6

Overview of most prominent models of decision making, continued

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 9 (second half)


Week 8: Decision Making Models, continued

Tuesday, October 11

Conclude discussion on decision making


Thursday, October 13

MIDTERM EXAM – Bring Blue Book


Week 9: Implementation

Tuesday, October 18

A more detailed look at the importance of implementation and policy outcomes

Judging program success versus failure

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 11


Thursday, October 20

Conclude discussion on implementation and policy outcomes


Week 10: Budgeting

Tuesday, October 25

The single most important and informative government document?

The dual roles of the budget

The budget process

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 13


Thursday, October 27

Conclude discussion on budgeting


Week 11: People in Government Organizations

Tuesday, November 1

Elements of the civil service system and managing human capital

Position classification, staffing, compensation, employee rights, and collective bargaining

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 7


Thursday, November 3

Managing human capital

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 8


Week 12: Controlling the Bureaucracy

Tuesday, November 8

Conclude discussion on the civil service system


Thursday, November 10

Are mechanisms for control desired? Are they necessary?

Internal and external controls

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 13 and pages 394 - 406


Week 13: Controlling the Bureaucracy, continued

Tuesday, November 15

Internal and external controls, continued

Is it possible to effectively control the bureaucracy?


Thursday, November 17

The emerging importance of ethics

Code of ethics

Read: Kettl and Fesler, pages 406 - 413


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

Tuesday, November 22


Strategies and tactics of administrative reform

Why is reform so difficult? Is reform necessary?

The search for effective organization

Read: Kettl and Fesler, chapter 4 and 6


Thursday, November 24

Thanksgiving Holiday – No class


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

Tuesday, November 29

The National Performance Review

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


Thursday, December 1

Conclude discussion on administrative reform

Course Wrap-up, last minute questions, and etcetera


FINAL EXAM – Thursday, December 8 from 10:00 to 11:50am. Bring Blue Book.


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


Important Dates

September 22 – Class canceled

October 13 – Midterm Exam

November 22 – Book Review Due

November 24 – Thanksgiving Holiday

December 8 – Final Exam