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Discussion and Essay Questions Available to teachers only as part of the Teaching the Federal BureaucracyTeacher Pass
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Sample of Discussion and Essay Questions
Bureaucrats Have Bad Reputations Why do you suppose bureaucrats have such bad reputations?
Are they based on performance? Do people just dislike government?
Structure of the Bureaucracy
Why would the government establish corporations? Why not leave these fee-based services or commercial activities to the private sector?
Wouldn’t for-profit private businesses be more efficient? Government corporations include the postal service, Amtrak, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
What is your sense of these? Are they well run? Inefficient and wasteful? Would a private corporation be interested in taking these over?
Growth of the Bureaucracy
What explains the historical growth spurts in the federal bureaucracy? Why has the size of the bureaucracy remained the same over the past thirty years?
What does the government seem to be doing in order to deliver services without hiring more people? Would you expect the federal bureaucracy to grow or shrink in the next several years?
What issues/problems/situations will cause it to grow or shrink? Will the government /can the government contract out the new services that it will need to provide over the next several years?
The Spoils System
Was the spoils system all that bad? Don’t most company executives hand out jobs to people they know?
Aren’t “connections” the ticket to jobs in the private sector? Does this lead to inefficiency or corruption? Why should the federal government be different?
Is the spoils system ideologically problematic? Or does it lead to incompetence in the federal workforce?
Accountability in Government
Why are government agencies pulled in different directions? How does the president impose his priorities on these agencies? How does Congress impose its priorities?
What sorts of reforms might increase the efficiency of the bureaucracy?
How might overlap and internal conflict be reduced? Could administration of the bureaucracy be taken out of the president’s hands? Could Congress’s role in the creation, funding, or oversight of the bureaucracy be changed? To what extent are the imperfections within the bureaucracy un-fixable?
What are some examples of successful and unsuccessful deregulation? In what areas does the government need to increase or decrease its regulatory oversight?
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