Federal Bureaucracy Terms
Get down with the lingo.
Airline Deregulation Act Of 1978Passed with bipartisan support, the Airline Deregulation Act phased out the Civil Aeronautics Board and deregulated the airlines.
Attorney GeneralThis person is the head of the Justice Department. The Attorney General, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, is a member of the cabinet.
BureaucracyA bureaucracy is the administrative system within a large organization. By dividing the work within the organization into specialized roles governed by clear rules and by arranging authority along hierarchical lines, bureaucracies attempt to efficiently manage the activities of the organization.
Organization structure or government
Usually implies slow moving
Civil Aeronautics BoardCreated by the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, the Civil Aeronautics Board was designed to promote and regulate the emerging commercial airlines. By regulating routes, fares, and schedules, the CAB aims to protect the new industry and provide Americans with safe and extensive commercial passenger air service.
Civil ServiceThis refers to the process of filling government positions by examination rather than appointment. Introduced at the federal level in 1883 with the passage of the Pendleton Act, the civil service system sought to eliminate the distribution of government positions as a form of patronage and instead fill government positions on the basis of merit.
The civilian employees of the federal bureaucracy make up the civil service.
Cabinet DepartmentsThese are the fifteen largest executive departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs. Their heads are labeled Secretaries, except for the head of the Justice department, who is labeled the Attorney General. These department heads make up the president's cabinet.
Clean Air Scientific Advisory CommitteeCreated under the Clean Air Act (passed in 1970 and amended in 1977), this committee of scientists advises the Environmental Protection Agency administrator responsible for enforcing the Clean Air Act on air quality conditions and standards. The CASAC is only an advisory group; it has no enforcement authority, but in creating the committee, Congress insisted that its recommendations should be followed.
Community Reinvestment ActPassed in 1977, this act encouraged banks to lend money to borrowers from low-income and moderate-income neighborhoods. According to some, this act contributed to the mortgage crisis of 2008.
DeregulationThis refers to the reduction or elimination of government rules on business and other private activities. Advocates of deregulation argue that excessive government regulation reduces private freedom and inhibits economic growth.
Discretionary Authority Of Administrative DiscretionThis refers to the degree of autonomy enjoyed by agency officials to establish policies or take actions independent of congressional or presidential directive.
Environmental Protection AgencyThis is an independent regulatory agency responsible for enforcing the federal government's anti-pollution laws and environmental regulations. It was created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon through a reorganization of several federal agencies earlier created by Congress.
Executive Office Of The PresidentCreated in 1939, this agency assists the president in managing the federal bureaucracy.
Executive OrdersThese are rules or regulations issued by the executive branch that have the effect of law. They are used by presidents to flesh out the details of Congressional legislation and guide the executive agencies. The "ordinance power" gives the president the authority to issue executive orders.
Executive orders are issued by the president and have the effect of law. They are used to flesh out the operating guidelines for government agencies that usually receive only general direction from Congress at the time of their legislative creation.
Federal BureaucracyThe federal bureaucracy consists of the roughly 500 departments, agencies, administrations, authorities, and commissions that carry out responsibilities assigned to them through Congressional legislation.
Federal Reserve BoardThis seven-member board governs the Federal Reserve System and sets monetary policy for the United States; that is, by adjusting interest rates and reserve requirements, the "Fed" regulates the amount of money in circulation.
The board of governors of the Federal Reserve System. Also known as the Fed, it oversees the Federal Reserve System and sets monetary policy including discount rates and minimum reserve requirements. The Fed’s seven members are appointed by the president and serve 14-year terms.
Our nation’s central bank. Acts as a regulator of money supply and is a big driver of interest rates. It was created with three mandates: (1) control inflation; (2) enable full employment; and (3) promote stability within the banking system. It also serves as a lender of last resort to banks.
Government CorporationsThese are government-owned enterprises that provide services for a fee or engage in a commercial activity. One example is the United States Postal Service. Amtrak, or the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, is also a government corporation founded in 1971 to revive passenger rail travel.
Hatch ActPassed by Congress in 1939 and amended in 1993, this act regulates the political activity of federal employees. Federal employees may not run for partisan public office, nor may they engage in political activity while on duty.
Independent Executive AgencyThese are executive branch agencies, created by Congressional legislation, that do not fall under the jurisdiction or control of the primary executive departments (such as the Department of Agriculture or Department of Defense). Their responsibilities are defined by the Congressional legislation that created them. As a result, some of these agencies are more independent in their operations than other executive agencies. Some of these independent executive agencies serve regulatory purposes, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. Others advance specific objectives deemed worthy of government support, such as the National Science Foundation.
Legislative VetoThis refers to any legislation authorizing Congress to overturn a presidential decision. One type of legislative veto is a Congressional requirement that the president submit his decisions regarding the implementation of a bill to Congress for approval. In 1983, in Naturalization Service v. Chadha, the Supreme Court ruled certain types of legislative vetoes unconstitutional. But through agreements with the executive branch such as "report and wait provisions" negotiated during the legislative process, Congress has retained the ability to challenge executive decisions regarding implementation.
Line AgenciesThese are federal agencies that perform duties. Unlike the staff agencies that are more advisory in nature, line agencies engage in some sort of activity. Some line agencies are regulatory; others perform services.
Mortgage Backed SecurityThis is a type of investment in which individual or group investors purchase a stake in a group of mortgages that have been bundled together. The return on these investments is fed by homeowners as they make payments on their mortgages that have been pooled with others. According to many, these poorly regulated securities contributed to the mortgage crisis of 2008.
Muller V. OregonThis 1908 United States Supreme Court decision established the authority of governments to regulate the workplace. Muller challenged a 1903 Oregon law which limited the work day to ten hours for female laundry and factory workers. Muller argued that this violated the rights of employers and employees to enter into contracts freely. But the Court ruled that the state had a legitimate, and in this case more compelling, obligation to protect the health, welfare, and safety of its citizens.
Munn V. IllinoisThis 1877 United States Supreme Court ruling established the authority of governments to regulate private business. When grain warehouse owners challenged the legitimacy of an Illinois state law that regulated warehouse and elevator rates, the Court ruled that state governments could regulate private property "when such regulation becomes necessary for the public good."3
Office Of Management And BudgetNamed the Bureau of the Budget when it was created in 1921, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the executive agency responsible for assisting the president with the formation of the annual federal government budget. Its director is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Office Of Personnel ManagementThe OPM is responsible for hiring personnel for most government agencies. It establishes the rules which govern federal employment. Its director is appointed by the president subject to confirmation by the Senate.
PatronageThis refers to the practice of distributing government jobs and contracts by politicians to rewards supporters and donors. Patronage was widely practiced at all levels of government during the nineteenth century, until civil service reform introduced merit-based hiring practices.
This practice of awarding government jobs to political supporters was an important tool for building party loyalty. Widely practiced during the nineteenth century, patronage, or the "spoils system," has been reduced through the introduction of civil service reforms. Now, most federal government jobs are distributed through competitive hiring processes which often include a written examination.
Pendleton ActThis civil service reform measure, passed in 1883 shortly after President James Garfield was killed by a deranged office seeker, made some federal jobs attainable only through competitive processes that usually began with a civil service exam. Originally, only about 10% of all federal jobs were controlled by this act; today, the vast majority of federal positions are attainable only through merit-based procedures and competitive exams.
Report And Wait ProvisionsThis is one device used by Congress to exercise influence over a bill or agency after a piece of legislation has been signed into law and delegated to the president for execution. These provisions, attached to legislation, require that the president report all intended actions pertaining to an agency or bill to the appropriate Congressional committee for review. The committee may not overturn these decisions; to do so would constitute a "legislative veto" ruled unconstitutional in 1983. But by building in time for review, Congress has the opportunity to mobilize political opposition or draft new legislation relevant to the proposed executive action.
SecretaryThis title is given to the heads of all of the executive departments except for the Department of Justice. The head of the Justice Department is called the Attorney General. These Secretaries, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, make up the majority of the president's cabinet.
Spoils SystemThis term is used to describe the patronage system. Government offices were distributed to political supporters and donors after elections in order to strengthen party unity. President Andrew Jackson was the first American president to use federal positions for this purpose.
Staff AgenciesThese are executive agencies that provide advice or assistance to the president or other executive branch officials. They are more advisory in nature; unlike the line agencies, they do not exercise regulatory functions or deliver services.
Subprime MortgageThis a house loan with less than ideal terms made to a high-risk borrower. Individuals with poor credit and/or low incomes can only qualify for these loans, which carry high or variable interest rates, expensive start-up fees, and/or penalties for early repayment. According to many, abuses in the subprime mortgage industry contributed to the mortgage crisis of 2008.
West WingThe president's Oval Office, the Cabinet room, and the offices of most of the president's most important advisors are located in the "West Wing" of the White House.
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