Political Science 330 Bureaucracy and The Public Policy Process   Fall Semester 2008

Meeting in DU 252

M-W: 2:00 to 3:15 P.M.


Office: ZH-107

Office Hours: M-T-W-T 11:00 to 11:50 P.M. Otherwise by Appointment

Instructor: Dr. Steve Berg




Course Description:


Course Catalog definition of POLS 330: “Role of the bureaucracy in the formation and implementation of public policy. Includes the interaction of public agencies with other agencies, chief executives, legislatures, courts, other levels of government, parties, interest groups, and the media.  The subject matter for this course has some inevitable overlap with that of POLS 331.  Bureaucracy and administration are often considered to be synonymous, but this course has a greater emphasis on public policy, and less of a local government viewpoint than is normally the case in POLS 331.  As you will discover in the first part of the course, there are other forms of administration than bureaucracy and they will be covered as well.   


Expected Political Science Course Outcomes:


1.   Content: Students should show familiarity with major concepts, theoretical perspectives and empirical findings as related to the course.

2.   Communication Skills: Students should demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.

3.   Research Skills: Students should have an understanding of basic research skills and be able to apply analytical and research skills in written assignments for the course.

4.   Critical Thinking: Students should be able to think critically, and use skeptical inquiry in problem solving.


Required Texts:


Is Politics Insoluble? By Henry Hazlitt, Edited by Felix R. Livingston. 

Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives by Micheal E. Kraft and Scott R. Furlong.  CQ Press.

The Modern Theory of Political  Bureaucracy by Paul Culhane.   


Supplemental Readings:


When appropriate, any such readings will be made available in the Reserve Room at Founders Library.


Midterm and Final Examinations:


There will be a midterm and a final exam in this class.  These will be take-home tests, and will likely consist of essay questions.  The final exam will be comprehensive.  They are due at the beginning of the specified class periods. 


Research Paper:


Public policy is a controversial subject area.  Inherent in it is a substantial complement of political ideology.  Whenever you implement a public policy, you are forcing your notions of The Good on others, who may not appreciate it, even though you are certain that the policy in question is for their own good, as well as the good of Society, the Earth or the entire Cosmos.  Fortunately for you, your Instructor is a firm adherent to classical views on academic freedom  This means that your papers will be graded on how well you make and support your arguments, not on your adherence to any particular political viewpoint, whether or not you are Politically Correct or happen to agree with your Instructor.  With that as a prelude, your paper assignment in this course is to pick out a public policy issue of interest to you, and write a paper of no less than 15, and no more than 20 pages in length, advocating your policy, explaining what level of government might best implement it, and what sort of administration/bureaucracy would be needed for its implementation.  You should also take into account the Law of Unintended Consequences in your advocacy.  How might your policy backfire?  It is essential that you properly document your quotations or close paraphrases in a suitable format so that I can check out your source materials.  A bibliography is required listing sources you consulted and cited.  No more than half your references may be Internet sources.  The title page, notes and bibliography are to be in addition to the no more than 20 pages of your writing, and a title page is also required and is not counted, either in the 20 pages.  It would be a Really Good Idea to discuss your policy issue with your Instructor before committing a great deal of time to the project.  Trying to tackle policy issues like ending poverty, ending discrimination, and abolishing warfare may be laudable, but sufficiently intractable to defy analysis in 20 pages. 



The tests and papers you hand in for this course are to be typed or printed by ink-jet or laser computer printers.  As an experiment, you are also encouraged to hand in your papers via  Blackboard.  Normally your Instructor prefers to avoid modern state-of-the-art technology as it still tends to hate him for forcing it to advance for so many years.  But, this semester we are going to experiment a bit and try Blackboard.    Papers and tests should be double-spaced, and preferably be in size 12 type in a standard font like Times New Roman.  If you are handing in your work via Blackboard, you must submit it in a format readable by Microsoft Word.  As your Instructor is not aware of the University Policies on using Blackboard for accepting final exams, he will not accept final exams via this means.  Final exams must accordingly be handed in to him on Dead Trees during the final exam period unless other arrangements are made in advance.  Other papers and tests may be handed in via Blackboard if so desired by the Students.   As this is a college level course, spelling, command of the English language, and grammar are important elements of your work, and will be taken into account during grading.  Papers showing evidence of plagiarism will be dealt with harshly.  For further information on plagiarism, please consult the following websites: or or discuss the matter with the Instructor before handing in the work in question.



Late Paper Policy:


All papers, such as the research paper and the tests, are due at the beginning of the specified class meeting.  Papers turned in after this, at the discretion of the instructor, will be docked at least one letter grade per day in arrears.  Should a student have an emergency situation such as illness or family emergency, if possible, they should contact the Instructor prior to the class meeting where the paper is due, explaining the nature of the emergency.  All such circumstances must be documented to the satisfaction of the Instructor.  At his discretion the student may be allowed to e-mail the paper, and the reduction in grade due to lateness may be waived or reduced.  Under no other circumstances will the Instructor accept e-mailed papers.  Every semester your Instructor has problems with students who apparently cannot handle or meet deadlines.  Eventually you are going to have a boss, who will be even more of a heartless tyrant than your Instructor, and who will not accept late assignments.  You might as well get used to meeting deadlines now. You know about the assignments for this course from the beginning of the semester.  There is really no excuse for any late papers.  It is to your advantage to get your assignments in on time.


Participation and Attendance:


For the class to be successful, all students must regularly and meaningfully participate.  Of course, for this to occur, students must have completed all of the assigned readings prior to each class.  Students should be prepared to discuss the readings and add relevant observations based upon their own experiences.  In order to make the class more current, the Instructor will bring in items of interest concerning bureaucracy and public policy and share them with the class.  Students are encouraged to do the same.  Should participation not be present to the satisfaction of the Instructor, he reserves the right to assign topics to individual students for them to present in class.   The Instructor also reserves the right to call on any member of the class to have them contribute to the discussion or to verify a suitable level of a student’s preparedness.  If it is sadly apparent that many in the course have not read the material, or if there are other clues indicating that preparation has been lacking in the students, the Instructor reserves the right to inflict pop quizzes on the assembled multitude.   These pop quizzes will be graded, and the scores applied to the attendance and participation portion of each student’s overall grade.  Consequently, it will be far better to come prepared to discuss the material, than to show up unprepared.  I have ways to make you talk.  I have ways that will make even a statue talk…  A word to the wise should be sufficient.


Your Instructor believes that the course will be far more valuable, (and much less boring) if we adopt as much of a seminar format as is possible in a class of this size.  This means that you all must be ready to carry your side of the work by being prepared to intelligently discuss the course material extensively and in depth.  Your Instructor has considerable experience in politics, bureaucracy and various levels of government, and you also have a wealth of experience to be tapped, and we shall make the most of it.  In addition, I am bringing in some outside speakers to provide additional knowledge and experience to the course. 


Students are expected to attend all of the classes.  If a student misses more than two classes or is chronically tardy, the Instructor reserves the right to proportionally lower the participation and attendance portion of their final grade.  Absent and tardy students miss class material and disrupt class discussion.  Tardiness is strongly frowned upon.  If you are in an unusual situation, such as having a class at Barsema Hall or the Engineering Building immediately preceding this one, it is in your best interest to discuss this difficulty with the Instructor to receive Special Dispensation.  The Instructor has noticed an increase of tardy students in the past several semesters.  Such boorish and inconsiderate behavior disrupts the class, and greatly irritates the Instructor.  Should this tardiness problem persist, the Instructor reserves the right to close and lock the classroom door, and the offending individuals will not be allowed to enter.  Your Instructor may do this anyway due to security problems brought to his attention by the Late Unpleasantness there in Cole Hall.  Persistently and chronically absent and tardy individuals may wind up being administratively withdrawn from the course.  Attendance will be taken and recorded, generally at the end of each class period.





Unless otherwise cleared with the Instructor in advance, all cell phones, pagers, IPODS, and other assorted communication and entertainment devices shall be turned off during the class meetings.  It is expected that class members will conduct themselves according to classically accepted norms of civility (as understood and exemplified by the Instructor).  Students who fail to comport themselves in a courteous manner and are disruptive, obnoxious, or abusive will find themselves physically and administratively removed from the course and may face charges in the university judicial system. 





The Instructor reserves the right to have a sense of humor, and exercise it in class.




Cheating will not be tolerated in this course.  This includes the offense of plagiarism.  If there is any doubt, please cite the sources of your materials. Quotations need to be appropriately noted in a standard format, such that the original source can be readily determined.  Works consulted for your papers need to be included in a bibliography included at the back of the paper.   Proper citation is essential for any material you quote or closely paraphrase. Respect for intellectual property is one of the core values of this university and also of your Instructor.  It is also imperative that you do your own work.  Your Instructor has frequently worked on group projects, where he and a minority of the project team performed the lion’s share of the work.  Reflecting on this, he expects each of you to work independently and not copy, steal, or collude with others in the performance of the assignments for this course.  This is not to preclude the laudable socializing and lifelong friendships that hopefully are being formed as you trudge through the labyrinth of your academic career.  I trust that you are getting together outside of class for socializing and discussions.  (And also to plot against me.)  Just do your own work.  Marked similarities of work occurring in tests and papers is an indicator of possible cheating, and arouses my suspicions.  A word to the wise: your Instructor has been known to detect plagiarism quite well, and he reserves the rights to give a student a zero (0) on a given plagiarized test question, term paper or test, a 0 (zero) on the entire assignment, and/or an F in the course.  Those who cheat can expect to face the full force of the Departmental, College and University rules on intellectual property and academic misconduct. 


Grading Structure:


Final letter grades will be based upon the following:


Grading scale:

90% to 100% = A

80% to 89% = B

70% to 79% = C

60% to 69% = D

0% to 59% = F


The scale in use indicates that grading will not be done on a curve but as a percentage of successfully completed work. The following list shows the percentage toward your final grade for each graded exercise.  The probable pop quizzes are counted toward the Participation and Attendance part of your final grade.


Research Paper                                                20%   20 Points

Midterm Examination                                      30%   30 Points

Final Examination                                           30%   30 Points

Participation & Attendance                             20%   20 Points

Total                                                                100%  100 Points



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.



Religious Holidays:


Your Instructor has no way of knowing a student’s religious affiliation.  Nor, does he care so long as it does not involve involuntary human sacrifice.  Consequently, if observances of your Faith require your absence from a regularly scheduled class meeting, a prudent student will notify the Instructor in advance so accommodations can be appropriately worked out.





The Instructor of this course was a champion non-traditional student at this University for many years.  Consequently, he realizes that most students must work in order to afford to attend NIU, and also that crises and emergencies crop up in the lives of students.  Should these arise (and I surely hope they do not), whenever possible, prompt discussion of the situation with the Instructor is a Really Good Idea.  There are very few of us in academia who have not had to deal with our own “Semester From Hell” and often ways can be worked out to prevent total disaster from occurring.  Those students who are on scholarships requiring the maintenance of acceptable grade point averages are advised to contact the Instructor immediately should they suspect that they might be in some difficulty in the course.  This is especially true for those students with athletic scholarships.  Should any of you have a personal crisis of one sort or another that adversely impacts your performance in this course you are advised to see me immediately during my office hours.  I do not need to hear the gory private details, but will try to work with you to salvage as much of your grade in this course as is possible. As you are no doubt aware, this university is a bureaucratic system that thrives on paperwork and requires documentation.  (You will learn more about this during the course.)  This is why I need to have some sort of evidence to bring to Higher Authority to help justify clemency and mercy for hapless students.   This University, like most others operates on Rawlsian principles of Justice.  According to these, Justice is Fairness.  So, if I offer special treatment to one person after the fact, I must offer it to everyone else.  It is always much easier to make accommodations before the end of the semester.  It is virtually impossible to do much after the semester is ended.   If I offer special extra credit to one student, I have to offer it to all.  Then, I would have to justify about 50 change of grade forms to the Department Chair and then, to the Dean of LA&S.  You can see why that is not going to happen.  In the hopefully unlikely event that anyone must be absent due to a death in the family or similar tragedy, please come talk to me and give me some documentation such as a newspaper obituary and most if not all problems relating with what you missed from class can usually be worked out.   The best way to contact me is before or after class.  Otherwise, contact me via e-mail using the address at the beginning of this syllabus  It is best to not use my NIU e-mail address.



Tentative Weekly Schedule:


Week 1 (August 25-29): Monday, Introduction to the course.  For Wednesday, read Chapter 1 in the Culhane reprint.


Week 2 (September 1-5): For Monday, please celebrate Labor Day prudently.  For Wednesday, read Chapter 2 in the Culhane Reprint.


Week 3 (September 8-12): Read Chapter 3 in the Culhane Reprint.


Week 4 (September 15-19): Read Chapter 4 in the Culhane Reprint.


Week 5 (September 22-26): Read Chapter 5 in the Culhane Reprint.


Week 6 (September 29-October 3):  Read Chapters 1, 2 and 3 in Public Policy.


Week 7 (October 6-10):  Read Chapters 4, 5 and 6 in Public Policy.


Week 8 (October 13-17): Read Chapters 7, 8 and 9 in Public Policy.  The Mid-Term exam is handed out on Monday.


Week 9 (October 20-24): Please read Chapters 10 and 11 in Public Policy. The Mid-Term exam is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday.


Week 10 (October 27-31): Read Chapter 12 in Public Policy, and the Introduction in Is Politics Insoluble?


Week 11 (November 3-7): Read the Chapter “Is Politics Insoluble?” in the book of the same name.  Also read The Torrent of Laws.


Week 12 (November 10-14): Read “The Case for the Minimal State” in “Is Politics Insoluble?


Week 13 (November 17-21): Wednesday, the term paper is due at the beginning of class. Read “Popular Government, From Spencer’s 1884 to Orwell’s 1984” in “Is Politics Insoluble?


Week 14 (November 24-28): Thanksgiving Break starts on November 26.  No classes on Wednesday!  Read Pages 111 through 134 in “Is Politics Insoluble?” and Chapter 13 in “Public Policy.”

Week 15 (December 1-5):  Summary and final review of the course.  Monday, the Final Examination is handed out.


The Final Exam is Due Monday, December 8, 2:00 3:50 P.M.  Due to University Regulations, the class must meet at this time, on this date.  I have to be there, and I will be dutifully sitting on the table graciously accepting your final exam papers.  I may bring some donuts if there is sufficient interest expressed by the class.