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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the way Congress, the president, bureaucrats, and citizens provide meaningful oversight over the bureaucracies
  • Identify the ways in which privatization has made bureaucracies both more and less efficient

As our earlier description of the State Department demonstrates, bureaucracies are incredibly complicated. Understandably, then, the processes of rulemaking and bureaucratic oversight are equally complex. Historically, at least since the end of the spoils system, elected leaders have struggled to maintain control over their bureaucracies. This challenge arises partly due to the fact that elected leaders tend to have partisan motivations, while bureaucracies are designed to avoid partisanship. While that is not the only explanation, elected leaders and citizens have developed laws and institutions to help rein in bureaucracies that become either too independent, corrupt, or both.

Bureaucratic rulemaking

Once the particulars of implementation have been spelled out in the legislation authorizing a new program, bureaucracies move to enact it. When they encounter grey areas, many follow the federal negotiated rulemaking    process to propose a solution, that is, detailing how particular new federal polices, regulations, and/or programs will be implemented in the agencies. Congress cannot possibly legislate on that level of detail, so the experts in the bureaucracy do so.

Negotiated rulemaking is a relatively recently developed bureaucratic device that emerged from the criticisms of bureaucratic inefficiencies in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Philip J. Harter. 1982. “Negotiating Regulations: A Cure for Malaise,” Georgetown Law Journal , 71, No. 1.
Before it was adopted, bureaucracies used a procedure called notice-and-comment rulemaking . This practice required that agencies attempting to adopt rules publish their proposal in the Federal Register , the official publication for all federal rules and proposed rules. By publishing the proposal, the bureaucracy was fulfilling its obligation to allow the public time to comment. But rather than encouraging the productive interchange of ideas, the comment period had the effect of creating an adversarial environment in which different groups tended to make extreme arguments for rules that would support their interests. As a result, administrative rulemaking became too lengthy, too contentious, and too likely to provoke litigation in the courts.

Reformers argued that these inefficiencies needed to be corrected. They proposed the negotiated rulemaking process , often referred to as regulatory negotiation, or “reg-neg” for short. This process was codified in the Negotiated Rulemaking Act s of 1990 and 1996, which encouraged agencies to employ negotiated rulemaking procedures. While negotiated rulemaking is required in only a handful of agencies and plenty still use the traditional process, others have recognized the potential of the new process and have adopted it.

Questions & Answers

what is government
Seth Reply
why is today's government so corrupt?
Julius Reply
what type of government does American practice?
Joshua Reply
what type of government does American practice
Joshua
Representative Democracy
Digital
what is communalism
Yarhere Reply
suppression of the people and their rights.
Julius
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debbie Reply
which political party has had the most sucess
Damion Reply
In what ways can the media change the way a citizen thinks about government?
Justin Reply
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Cowboy
Which of the following is not an agent of political socialization?
Vanessa Reply
What is government
AHMED Reply
how is the legislative work ?
Abdurahim Reply
law making
Cowboy
When acting as an agenda setter, the media
Brooke Reply
How do you know the answer to a question?
Nikaela Reply
which was not a third party challenger
Jonna Reply
the system of government in the United States is best described as?
Gabrielle Reply
a government for the people by the people
Jimmy
Which of the following was not a third-party challenger? a. Whig Party b. Progressive Party c. Dixiecrats d. Green Party
sonu Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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