REVISED 2-17-08



POLS 330-1 - Spring 2008

DuSable Hall, Rm. 459 - M, W, & F:  10:00 - 10:50 a.m.



Instructor:                              Sara Reed


Office Hours:                         Monday & Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. - Noon

                                                Friday, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

               & by appointment


Office Location:                     DuSable Hall, Rm. #476



Phone:                                     630-776-1906




Federal, state, and local governments in the United States are held accountable, to a large extent, by the American public.  The public policies governments create and implement, however, are often in opposition to the public's perceptions of effective government.  Whereas the media does attempt to shed light upon bureaucratic operations, the media can also be quick to focus on negative news coverage including scandalous controversies.  As a result, a major aim of this course will be to provide a more balanced and in-depth understanding of public bureaucracies vis-a-vis a public policy lens.


During the semester we will integrate theoretical considerations with practical applications.  Within this context, important questions will be addressed, such as:  Is it realistic or even possible for public bureaucracies to be efficient, in addition to democratic in their operations?  Are public bureaucracies inherently corrupt and self-serving?  And, what constitutes good and bad public policy?  This course is designed for political science majors who are seeking to gain the skills and insight necessary to critically evaluate a public bureaucracy's effectiveness in providing services for its citizens.



Upon successful completion of the course, students will have gained:

q       A historical background of the U.S. bureaucracy

q       Knowledge of classic and contemporary public administration theory

q       An understanding of the major dilemmas of public bureaucracies within a democracy

q       Knowledge of the American public policy process

q       The ability to critically examine the effectiveness of public policies




There are two required texts for the course:  Bureaucracy and the Policy Process:  Keeping the Promises, by Dennis D. Riley & Bryan E. Brophy-Baermann (2006/ISBN #:  0-7425-3811-7 paperback); and Bureaucracy in a Democratic State:  A Governance Perspective, by Kenneth J. Meier & Laurence J. O'Toole, Jr. (2006/ISBN #:  0-8018-8357-1 paperback).  You may purchase both of the texts from the NIU Bookstore, the VCB (Village Commons Bookstore), or your favorite on-line bookseller.



In addition to the above texts, additional required readings will be posted on Blackboard.  Please see the course calendar at the end of this syllabus for specific titles and due dates.


Blackboard and NIU E-Mail Accounts

You are required to utilize the NIU Blackboard system and your NIU E-Mail account on a weekly basis throughout the semester.  Blackboard will be used for posting required readings, making important announcements, and for posting grades.  Your NIU E-Mail account will be used for individual communication as necessary.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you require assistance in utilizing either of the accounts.   


Attendance & Participation

Attendance and participation are very important components of this course.  As such, you will earn one (1) point for each full class period for which you participate in and attend.  Students may elect to miss up to two (2) class days without losing attendance or participation credit, as long as the days do not fall on the day of an exam.  Students are encouraged to discuss the course material and ask questions during each class session.  Periodically, students will also be required to participate in a group activity during class.


Summary Outline

Each student will complete a summary outline of his or her proposed research paper.  The primary purpose of this assignment is to present a detailed summary of your intended research paper so that you can receive feedback before writing and submitting your final research paper.  Specific guidelines will be available on Blackboard.


Research Paper

Students are required to write a quality research paper on a topic germane to the course.  The research paper will be between 10 and 12 pages in length (excluding references), 12 pt. font, double-spaced, and with 1" margins.  Paper topics must be approved by the instructor.  A detailed instruction sheet, to include specific grading criteria will be posted on Blackboard.  Please also see information under "Undergraduate Writing Awards".



There will be one (1) mid-term exam and one (1) final exam.  The mid-term will be held in-class, will be structured as a closed book and closed notes test, and will be non-cumulative in nature.  The mid-term will consist of 35 multiple choice and true and false questions.  The final exam will be administered on Blackboard as a non-cumulative take-home exam and will consist of 55 multiple choice and true and false questions.  In addition, it will be possible to earn a total of 5 bonus points on each exam.  It is expected that students will take the examinations at the designated date and time. 



Students will be evaluated based upon the following obligations and grading scale:


Required Obligations

Attendance & Participation

(1 point per full class period)

41   points

       (final exam day will not be included)

Summary Outline

50   points

Research Paper

100 points

Mid-Term Exam

35   points (excluding bonus points)

Final Exam

55   points (excluding bonus points)


281 (excludes possible bonus points)


Grading Scale (in points)

A =   252 & Above

B =   224 - 251

C =   196 - 223

D =   168 - 195

F =    Below 168



Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which mandates reasonable accommodations be provided for qualified students with disabilities.  If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing the accommodations you may need.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities.  The CAAR office is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (815-753-1303).  I look forward to talking with you soon to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.


Department of Political Science Website

Students are encouraged to consult with the Department of Political Science website on a regular basis.  This central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study and researching career options.  Undergraduates may find this website especially useful in tracking down department events and for accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities.  To reach this site, go to


Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding 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 a monetary award of $50.00.  Papers, which can only be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to the department secretary by the end of February.  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.


Classroom Behavior

Please turn off all electronic devices and refrain from side conversations during class.  Students are expected to exhibit mutual respect and tolerance of each other's opinions.  Likewise, it is expected that students will demonstrate courteous behavior throughout each class-period.  Please note that students in violation of this policy may be asked to leave the class and will not be given credit for attendance or assignments due that day.


Phones & Cameras

The use of a phone, camera, or any other communication device during class or an examination is prohibited.


Cheating & Plagiarism

Cheating and plagiarizing in any form will not be tolerated.  The instructor reserves the right to fail (for an assignment and/or the course) a student who cheats and plagiarizes.  Students found in violation of this policy will be referred to the appropriate university judicial board for disciplinary action.


Make-Up Exams

Make-up exams are given at the discretion of the instructor and will be given only in extreme circumstances involving yourself and/or an immediate family member.  In addition, students will be allowed to make-up an exam only if they present written documentation of the legitimate excuse.  Examples of a "legitimate" excuse include a medical emergency that involves the student or the student's immediate family member, military service, or jury duty.  Students are advised to consult with the instructor as soon as possible if they will need to make-up an exam.


Incomplete Grade Policy

Incompletes are given at the discretion of the instructor and only when it is possible that the completion of the remaining work could result in a passing grade for the course.  Incompletes will only be given in rare circumstances, such as illness, death in the immediate family, or other extreme and unforeseeable circumstances.  In the event of an incomplete, the instructor reserves the right to change assignment or exam formats for the remaining work as necessary.  According to NIU policy, an incomplete must be resolved within the appropriate time limit or it will automatically be changed to an "F".  The student is responsible for seeing that incompletes are made up before the expiration date.



The following schedule is tentative.  Schedule changes will be announced in class and will be changed on the syllabus posted on Blackboard.  The syllabus on Blackboard will always be the most current source of information regarding the course schedule and assignments.  Please note that you are responsible for becoming informed about any changes made during an absence from class.  Readings with an asterisk can be accessed via Blackboard.




Assignments Due


Week #1

1/14 - 1/18


q       Course Introduction

q       Myth-Busting:  Perceptions v. Reality

q       The Federal Bureaucratic Structure



R& B, Ch. 3




   **No Class - Martin Luther King Day**



Week #2

1/22 - 1/25



q       The Evolution of the

            U.S. Federal Bureaucracy

q       Functions of the Bureaucracy

            (The "why" of bureaucracies)

q       Operational Mechanisms

            (The "how" of bureaucracies)



R & B, Ch. 1




Week #3

1/28 - 2/1


q       Operational Mechanisms, cont.

q       Bureaucracy & Democracy




Meier & O'Toole, Jr., Ch. 1 & 2



Week #4

2/4 - 2/8


q       Bureaucracy & Democracy, continued

Same as for Week #3


                    ** No Class**

   Work on Research Summary Outline



Week #5

2/13 - 2/15


q       2/13 - the P.A. Dichotomy, continued




*Wilson, Woodrow. "The Study of Administration"

Week #6

2/18 - 2/22

                     **No Class**

              NIU Administrative Break



Week #7

2/25 - 2/29


q       Classic Administrative & Org. Theory

q       Contemporary Admin./Org. Theory

q       Future Directions


*Rosenbloom, David H. "Public Administration Theory and the Separation of Powers"


Week #8

3/3 - 3/7


q       The Policy Process

q       Models of Policymaking

q       Policy Analysis & Evaluation

*Friday, 3/7 - Summary Outline Due*     


*Sabatier, Paul A.

"Toward Better Theories of the Policy


*Friday, 3/7 - Summary Outline Due*


Week #9

3/10 - 3/14



          **No Class - Spring Break**






Week #10

3/17 - 3/21



q       Bureaucratic Decision-Making Models

q       Bureaucracy & the Presidency

q       Bureaucracy & Congress


R & B, Ch. 5 & 6



Week #11

3/24 - 3/28


q       Bureaucracy & the Public

q       Administrative Ethics

*Friday, 3/28 - MID-TERM EXAM*

      (Covers through week #10)


R & B, Ch. 7


*Friday, 3/28 - MID-TERM EXAM*

        (Covers through week #10)


Week #12

3/31 - 4/4



q       The Federal Civil Service

q       Public Personnel Administration



R & B, Ch. 2



Week #13

4/7 - 4/11



q       Organizational Development & Change

q       Political Culture & Constraints

q       Principal Agents

q       Agency Power


Meier & O'Toole, Jr., Ch. 3 & 5

R & B, Ch. 4




Week #14

4/14 - 4/18



q       Bureaucracy & the Law

q       Rulemaking


R & B, Ch. 8


Week #15

4/21 - 4/25



q       Bureaucratic Outputs







*Friday, 4/25 - Research Paper Due*



*Caudle, Sharon

"Productivity Politics:  Gilding the



*Holzer, Marc

"Building Capacity for Productivity



*Friday, 4/25 -  Research Paper Due*



Week #16

4/28 - 5/2



q       Bureaucratic Reform




Meier & O'Toole, Jr., Ch. 6


*Light, Paul C.

"The Tides of Reform Revisited:

   Patterns in Making Government Work,

   1945 - 2002"

5/5 - 5/7

q       Bureaucratic Reform

q       Course Wrap-Up



Will be administered on Blackboard

(same pts.  - multiple choice/true & false)

Changed to a take-home exam

Honor system required

Work Alone Only, but...

Open books and notes


You may complete the exam anytime between 5/2 at 11: 00 a.m. and 5/8 at midnight - but please keep in mind that you cannot go back and change your answers once you have clicked on "save" or "submit".  You may, however, stop the test before you are done, save it, and complete it at a later time - as long as it is within the required timeframe.




*See Final Exam Handout *


DUE *****************************




Reading Day - No Class



Research Paper Discussion & Feedback

10:00 - 11:50 a.m., DuSable Hall, Rm. #459