For many years, bureaucracy has been a buzzword in political and social research. However, the public holds a misbalanced view of bureaucracy. The fact that bureaucrats in government have become too powerful cannot be easily dismissed. Bureaucracy by itself is not a negative phenomenon; for most scholars, the term “bureaucracy” is neutral and means “a large, complex organization composed of appointed officials” (Wilson, Dilulio & Bose 408). The power of bureaucracy has little to do with the number of appointed officials working in government, but it directly depends upon the officials’ ability to impact the course of political actions and implement policies that have not been specified by law (Wilson, Dilulio & Bose 415). The current government bureaucracy was shaping under the influence of the two major historical events: the Great Depression and the Second World War. Today’s bureaucratic power comes from the federal officials’ expertise, clientele groups and the so-called “buddy system” (Patterson 352; Wilson, Dilulio & Bose 418). These are the factors which enable appointed officials to maintain high positions and keep power in their hands.
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Bureaucrats in government have too much power. One of the main factors why government bureaucrats have gained so much power is because dealing with and firing an appointed official is extremely problematic. Almost all officials who have been appointed to work in the civil service are simply beyond reach (Wilson, Dilulio & Bose 418). Executives have no time or resources to fire or suspend an appointed official (Wilson, Dilulio & Bose 418). No wonder, many civil servants use their discretionary power to influence and even sabotage the opinions, decisions and actions undertaken by their political bosses as long as they disagree with them (Wilson, Dilulio & Bose 421). Moreover, the level of accountability among bureaucratic workers raises many questions. Most bureaucrats exercise too much independent power and fail to comply with the fundamental democratic values and principles (Patterson 362). Recent attempts to reform the bureaucratic system have had modest success. Yet, the power and effects of various legal and procedural constraints should not be disregarded. Most bureaucrats are required to follow complex bureaucratic procedures which slow down the process of implementing important political decisions. It would be fair to say that the growing power of bureaucrats in government is an inevitable byproduct of the political system itself, which demands immense and immediate action at all levels.
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