Political Science 330 Bureaucracy and The Public Policy Process.          

Instructor: Dr. Steve Berg

Fall Semester 2009

Meeting in DU 461, T-TH: 2:00 to 3:15 P.M.

Office: ZH-107

Office Hours: T-TH 1:00 to 1:50 P.M. & Wed: 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Otherwise by Appointment



The Final Exam is due Tuesday, December 8, 4-5:50 p.m.



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.” (3 Credit Hours.) 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.   Over the past summer, your Instructor has expended considerable effort to improve this course and has changed its format significantly.  The course will now make much more use of the Blackboard program, and will me conducted in more of a discussion and debate format.  Since there are many policy initiatives being floated presently at both the national and state levels, we shall have a wealth of policy issues to discuss this semester.


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.  Bookstore Reprint. 


Issues for Debate in American Public Policy: Selections from CQ Researcher, 10th Edition. ISBN: 978-1-60426-513-2


The Modern Theory of Political  Bureaucracy by Paul Culhane.  Bookstore reprint. 

Supplemental Readings:


When appropriate, any such readings will be made available in the Reserve Room at Founders Library or on electronic reserve which will be available via Blackboard.

Items on reserve must be read before the specified class sessions. 



Midterm and Final Examinations:


There will be a midterm and a final exam in this class.  These will be take-home tests, and will consist of essay questions.  The final exam will be comprehensive.  They are due at the beginning of the specified class periods.  Your Instructor prefers essay exams as they provide useful practice for students in writing reasoned arguments rather than guessing which of 4 answers might be correct.  Your Instructor cannot recall ever getting a multiple guess assignment in one of his many jobs, so these are not merely character building, but rather are useful career preparation exercises.  Essay exams also tend to provide that slight flicker of understanding of a topic that separates a ‘D’ paper from an ‘F’ paper.  Your task in an essay examination is to convince your Instructor that you are correct in your views.  In days gone by, this sort of thing was referred to as rhetoric.  That is, the art of persuasion.  It is still a most important skill to develop while trudging through your university degree programs.


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, and may even staunchly resist 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.  The necessity for ideological world views as a framework, and the requirement for force to implement many policies leads to conflict.  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, showing how it might best be funded, 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.  Unless cleared with your Instructor in advance, no more than half your references may be Internet sources.  The title page, citations or other notes format, 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 are sufficiently intractable to defy analysis in 20 pages.  During the later part of the course, we will be going over policy analysis and formulation using several chapters in the Congressional Quarterly textbook.


The tests and papers you hand in for this course are to be typed or printed by ink-jet or laser computer printers.  You may also hand in your papers and examinations via  the drop box feature of 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.  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 my ancient version of Microsoft Word.  Your Instructor can also now accept papers in the format generated by the Open Office Suite and the Microsoft .docx format.  Your Instructor has had problems in the past reading papers submitted in the various formats used by Microsoft Works.  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.


There are many formats in use for public policy analysis.  The one we shall utilize for the most part in this course is as follows:


Step 1: Determine the nature of the public problem via careful analysis.


Step 2: What sort of criteria or measurements and tools might best be used to analyze this problem?


Step 3: What sort of policy alternatives might there be to deal with the public problem in question?


Step 4: Which of these policy alternatives might be most successful in solving or at least improving the social fallout(s) from our public problem?


Step 5: How might the Law of Unintended Consequences sneak in to foil the success of our chosen proposed policy alternative?


Step 6: How might we best monitor the success or failure of our public policy if it is implemented?


Step 7: What are our overall conclusions on this policy?  Among which are: who benefits from the policy (cui bono) and who pays for it?


When working on your paper or on the policy discussions in this course, this is a good framework for us to use.  Highly advanced students will have a flash of intuition on how this framework has a great similarity to Herbert Simon’s decision making theory.



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.  Should a student have an unexpected and critical 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, or papers shoved under his office door.  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 is your Instructor, and who will not accept late assignments.  As a General Rule, not getting your work done on time outside the University Environment results in your termination from employment.  As employment is becoming increasingly difficult to find and maintain, 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.  This includes those assignments on reserve.  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 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.


With that in mind, your Instructor has decided to open up the discussion board feature of Blackboard for this course.  It has been set up with a new forum each week, at approximately midnight on Sunday.  Students may open up threads if they so choose. Topics discussed on the Blackboard forums should be kept to germane topics dealing with current events linked to public policy, and to what is being covered that week in class.  Students using the forums are expected to conform to accepted netiquette.  Flame wars, abusive and/or profane comments on these forums will be dealt with extremely harshly by the Instructor.  At the very minimum, such posts will be deleted, and the offending individual(s) participation grades will suffer dearly.  Public policy is inherently controversial, and discussions will be closely monitored.  The idea of using the Blackboard forums is to provide an alternative format for discussion in the course, as some students seem overly reticent to speak up in class.  The postings to the forums will be evaluated by the Instructor and his Graduate Assistant Ms. Katie Stone, and will constitute part of each student’s participation grade.  Items and issues can be brought up and discussed on-line.   Discussion is not merely indicating mere agreement or disagreement with what another person posts.  Nor is it making nasty comments or ad hominem attacks on another poster.  Discussion posts should show familiarity with the topic, indicate the strengths and weaknesses of it, and seek to convince the other readers of the correctness of the argument in question.  Not surprisingly, this is also what your Instructor expects in the answers to the essay examinations.  Your Instructor rather expects that these are also going to be important skills expected by your future employers.  The same thing goes for your participation in class. 


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 late entrances seriously disrupt class discussion.  If a student does not attend, all the rest of us lose their valued contributions to the course, and the overall welfare of those who do show up is severely compromised.  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.   Cheating will not be tolerated in this course.  This includes the offense of plagiarism.  If there is any doubt about possibly committing plagiarism, it is best to avoid it by prudently citing the sources of your materials. Generally, if you use quotation marks in a sentence, you need a citation.  Your Instructor prefers that you use the Chicago or Turabian styles of citations.  Here is an example of how to cite information from a book:


“Initially, in his 1751 essay “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind”  (1965: 71), Franklin was concerned lest the English colony of Pennsylvania be overrun by the “Palatine Boors.”  Yet, later on in a 1753 letter to his friend in England, Peter Collinson, he praised the German immigrants for their frugality and industry (1965: 72-79).”


In this example, the author is citing work by Benjamin Franklin.  These are an example of a format that cites within the text.  Each citation is linked to a bibliographical entry by the year and then the page number(s), enclosed in parentheses.  Consequently, works consulted for your papers need to be included in a bibliography placed at the back of the paper.   Here is the bibliographical format used with the preceding citations from Benjamin Franklin:


“Franklin, Benjamin.  1965.  The Political Thought of Benjamin Franklin.  Edited by             Ralph L. Ketcham.  Indianapolis, New York, Kansas City: The Bobbs – Merrill Company, Inc.”


You will need to use proper citations and bibliographical references for all of the papers and tests in this course.  If you have any doubt about how to proceed with citations, please contact your Instructor, or the relevant English language tutors working in the English Department or the Residence Halls.  Students who fail to properly cite in their papers can expect to be written up for plagiarism, and charges will be appropriately filed.  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 part of your final grade.  Your Instructor will not be using the grade book portion of Blackboard in this course.


Allocation of Points for the Final Grade:



Research Paper                                        20%   20 Points

Midterm Examination                                        30%   30 Points

Final Examination                                        30%   30 Points

Participation                                                          10%  10 Points   

Attendance                                                      10%   10 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 principles, 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.  Your Instructor reserves the right to bring in guest speakers.





Tentative Weekly Schedule:


Week 1 (August 25-27): Tuesday, Introduction to the course.  For Thursday, read Chapter 1 in the Culhane reprint.


Week 2 (September 1-3): For Tuesday, read Chapter 2 in the Culhane Reprint.  For Thursday, we will continue on Chapter 2, and it would be a good idea to start reading Chapter 3 in the Culhane Reprint.


Week 3 (September 8-10): Celebrate Labor Day with due care.  For Tuesday read Chapter3 in the Culhane Reprint, and for Thursday, start reading Chapter 4.


Week 4 (September 15-17): On Tuesday, we will likely finish Chapter 4 in Culhane, and on Thursday, we will start on Chapter 5. 


Week 5 (September 22-24): On Tuesday, we should finish Chapter 5 in the Culhane Reprint.  On Thursday, read the “Introduction and” Is Politics Insoluble” in the Hazlitt reprint book.


Week 6 (September 29-October 1):  Read “The Torrent of Laws and “The Case for the Minimal State” in Hazlitt..


Week 7 (October 6-8):  Read “Popular Government” and From Spenser’s 1884 to Orwell’s 1984” in Hazlitt.


Week 8 (October 13-15):  Read “Why Politics is Insoluble” and “The Task Confronting Libertarians” in Hazlitt.  The Mid-Term exam is handed out on Thursday.


Week 9 (October 20-22): Please read “Discipline in Schools: Are Zero-tolerance Policies Fair?” in the CQ textbook.  Be fully prepared to analyze, discuss and debate the policy issues raised in this selection. The Mid-Term exam is due at the beginning of class on Thursday.


Week 10 (October 27-29): Read “Middle Class Squeeze: Is More Government Aid Needed?” in the CQ textbook.  Be fully prepared to analyze, discuss and debate the policy issues raised in this selection.


Week 11 (November 3-5): Read “Financial Bailout: Will U.S. and Overseas Action Stem the Global Crisis?” in the CQ textbook.  Be fully prepared to analyze, discuss and debate the policy issues raised in this selection.


Week 12 (November 10-12): Read “Homeland Security: Is America Safe From Terrorism Today?” in the CQ textbook.  Be fully prepared to analyze, discuss and debate the policy issues raised in this selection.



Week 13 (November 24): Read “Wrongful Convictions: Is Overhaul of the Criminal Justice System Needed?  in the CQ textbook.  Be fully prepared to analyze, discuss and debate the policy issues raised in this selection.  Tuesday, the term paper is due at the beginning of class.  No class on Thursday due to the Thanksgiving Holiday!


Week 14 (December 1-3): The Final Exam is handed out on Tuesday.  This week will be used for catching up on the schedule and for a final review of the course.


The Final Exam is Due Tuesday, December 8, 4-5:50 p.m.

Because of 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.