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Federal Bureaucracy

Federal Bureaucracy

Discussion and Essay Questions

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Sample of Discussion and Essay Questions

  1. Bureaucrats Have Bad Reputations
    • Why do you suppose bureaucrats have such bad reputations?
      • Are they based on performance?
      • Do people just dislike government?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. Government Waste
    • 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?
  7. Government Regulation
    • What are some examples of successful and unsuccessful deregulation?
    • In what areas does the government need to increase or decrease its regulatory oversight?
      • Health Care
      • College Admissions
      • Professional Sports
      • Education
      • Wall Street
      • The Oil Industry
      • The Environment
      • Race Relations
      • Banking
      • The Workplace
      • The Home
      • Fast Food