What Is Federal Bureaucracy?

What Is Federal Bureaucracy

For any institution to function, there is a great need for structure and order. For a country like America, it becomes even more important to have strong systems that work. The concept of the federal bureaucracy is one of such structures designed to make the task of governance easier. Federal Bureaucracy has the responsibility of administration, implementation, and regulation. When the American Congress passes a law, it creates some guidelines for carrying out the new policies. The process of putting these policies into practice is the implementation. Bureaucracy has some measure of discretion known as administrative discretion.

What is Federal Bureaucracy?

Federal Bureaucracy is a set-up that handles creating policies for Congress and the president. The framework of Federal bureaucracy now composes over 500 different agencies and departments. It has over 3 million employees. It is sometimes referred to as the fourth arm of the American government. When the founding fathers of the constitution created the government, they gave the government the needed autonomy to come up with departments required for daily functions.

This power was first used by Congress when it created the Department of State to help the president with foreign policies. Since that time, Congress has come up with several other agencies and departments to help with the demands of governance. This large network of government agencies is what is now known as federal bureaucracy.

The federal bureaucracy is a part of the executive branch of government. This is even though it falls under the jurisdiction of Congress to create them. The implementation and administration is the duty of the president.

What Is A Bureaucracy?

Bureaucracy is a way of coordinating or organizing a large number of people who work together. Several organizations in the private and public sectors depend on the structure of bureaucracy to function. Bureaucracy implies rule by offices and desks. Although there are people who think that bureaucracy can be a rather wasteful or inefficient set-up, it still proves to be a rather helpful system. This is because some people are usually able to function together in an organized manner.

What Exactly Is The Role Of A Bureaucrat?

Bureaucrats carry out a wide range of duties. More often than not, what comes to the minds of people when they think about bureaucrats is the role of desk clerks who push papers. But bureaucrats are more than that as they help teach, fight fires, and serve as check and balance to the system. The function of bureaucrats is to ensure the implementation of government policies. They also ensure the practice of decisions and laws made by officeholders.

Understanding bureaucracies

Bureaucracies are very complex institutions with the mandate of fulfilling fixed functions. The fact that they are complex and run by human beings makes it quite challenging to know how they work. Bureaucracies are by default power-hungry and competitive. This implies that bureaucrats know that there is a limit in resources available to feed the bureaucracies.

This is the main reason why they work so hard to enhance the status of their bureaucracies to the detriment of others.

This is seen sometimes in their efforts to highlight the importance of bureaucratic tasks. It also means that bureaucracies will attempt to make the most of budgets by using up its allotted resources every year. This makes it quite difficult for lawmakers to reduce the future budgetary allocations of bureaucracies. This strategy even though effective has been to the detriment of thrift. This would, thus, lead to a situation where the bureaucracy will grow beyond needs and lead to waste.

Some experts are of the view that it is not all about how far bureaucrats go in their pursuit of scarce resources. To them, what gives a real insight into how bureaucracies function is the absence of competition? Some similarities exist between the ways a private monopoly such as a regional power company or the internal revenue service. Organizations such as these are usually criticized for issues of poor service, waste and poor client responsiveness.

One typical illustration of this is the Bureau of Consular affairs which is the federal bureaucracy with the responsibility of giving out passports to citizens. Aside from this organization, there is no other one where Americans can get passports. Usually, this process takes quite a lot of time, sometimes extending to several weeks. This is the major reason why the bureau may not have any real reason to be more efficient in the discharge of its duties.

What Are The Types Of Bureaucratic Organizations?

Bureaucracy is the government unit created with a mandate to do certain defined objectives and goals as approved by the legislator. In America, the federal bureaucracy operates with a great level of autonomy. The reason for this can is the large size of the budget which is in trillions of dollars per year. Added to this is the fact that many of its sub-units do not have well-defined boundaries. Note that out that some actions are answerable to judicial review.

1. Independent executive agencies and regulatory agencies

Independent executive agencies are answerable to the American president and the heads of such agencies are hired by the president. But, unlike the case of cabinet agencies, independent agencies have streamlined functions. They are independent because they are not subjected to any regulatory authority. They also carry out important roles in ensuring the sovereignty of the country.

Some of the most notable agencies in this category include the Central Intelligence Agency. This agency has the responsibility of gathering and managing intelligence as it concerns the country. There is also NASA which has the responsibility of coming up with technological innovations for the core purpose of exploring space.

The independent regulatory agencies, on the other hand, came up in the latter part of the nineteenth century as a way to optimize industrialization. The interstate Commerce commission is the first regulatory agency. It had the responsibility of regulating the industrial progress made in the nineteenth century. Others include the commodity features trading commission. This agency has the mandate of regulating the American financial market. Others include the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

2. Cabinet Departments

There are 15 cabinet departments within the American government. These departments are large executive offices that account for the American president. These departments include the Treasury department, education, defense, and several others. There are yet times when certain agencies get scrapped. This is usually because they no longer need congressional and presidential oversight.

All departments have a head referred to as the Secretary.

They are usually appointed by the president and ratified by the senate. They are all accountable to the president and usually oversee each of the units that make up such departments. Within them, you also have assistant secretaries, undersecretaries, and deputy secretaries.

3. Government corporations

Government agencies operate quasi-businesses. The reasons they exist are because they are subject to the forces of demand and supply. They can raise enough money to sustain themselves. The major difference between such corporations and the owned ones is that they do not have shareholders. They instead have managers and boards of directors. Also, the profits gotten here are not shared; instead, they exist for the sustenance of such an organization. Also, these corporations do not pay taxes to the government.

A typical example of such a corporation is the American Postal service. There is also the National Railroad Passenger Corporation

What Is The Scope Of The Function Of Bureaucrats?

Bureaucrats must administer and carry out programs and policies created by presidential orders or congressional acts. The roles and functions of bureaucrats vary. They are officials of government who are subject to guidelines and regulations. Because they have a key role in modern society, they usually hold key roles in governments.

Due to the endless powers many of these bureaucratic agencies hold, it becomes imperative for them to be subject to regulations. Although the process of making rules for federal bureaucracies is a complex one, it is one that is quite important.


Bureaucracies are an important component of our everyday life. This is because the governmental processes are all subject to the same. Having a good understanding of the processes is imperative if one seeks to avoid the bottlenecks associated with them. It is also imperative that the regulatory framework for bureaucracies should be further strengthened. This is to help improve the quality of service delivery.

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