The Study of politics and policy based on the interaction of formal institutions in government such as the legislative executive and judicial branches. Compare with behaviorism.
- The approach pioneered in the late 1930's and 1940s that sought to study social phenomena based on the postulated and observed behaviors of individuals. Behaviorism was a response to the more common approach of its day known as institutionalism.
- The political motivations of individuals acting singly or in groups were analyzed often through sophisticated polling
The study of politics and policy that retains the focus on institutions but which incorporates a lot of behaviorists thinking as well.
A participant in the policy process whose involvement is motivated or mandated by their official position in a government agency or office. (Legislature, Executive, Judicial branches of government)
A participant in the process who does not have constitutionally or legally created incentives or mandates to be part of the process such as experts, researchers, and reporters, all of whom are important to the policy process. (Interest groups, nonprofits, new media etc)
- First listed branch - implying popular will exercised here
- Major policy making branch
- Making law - 7000 bills in House and 3500 in Senate
- Staff now required to assist lawmaker in daily duties
- Meetings, hearings, campaign and fund-raising, appearances, interviews, constituent contacts etc.
How various programs will run, how money will be distributed, what public works projects will be funded
Name federal buildings and post offices, National XXXX Day, etc
The tasks are undertaken by a legislator (or more commonly their staff) to help constituents with problems with government. Ex: writing letters of recommendation for admission to a military school, resolving immigration or passport issues, resolving problems with federal benefits like social security or veterans benefits. Nonpartisan way to interact with constituents.
The process by which Congress supervises the executive branches implementation of laws and programs. Grown more important since the 1970s as trust in government has declined
Three functions of Oversight Hearings
- 1. Help Congress and the public Understand issues better by bringing together various interests to testify.
- 2. Help reveal shortcomings in current policies.
- 3. Help politicians or parties score political points with the public, usually against the executive branch
A legislative hearing held outside DC., often for the purpose of highlighting a local issue; capitalizing on an accident, disaster or scandal, or providing local residents with an opportunity to make their views known to their elected officials.
Government Accountability Office (GAO)
The official investigative arm of congress. Studies public programs and makes recommendations to improve efficiency effectiveness and accountability to elected officials. Monitors implementation of the policies congress enacts. GAO findings may conflict with legislative goals, an ineffective program may be closely aligned with policy priorities Ex DARE in the 1990s.
Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network - owned by the cable TV industry to provide video coverage of congress and of related public affairs broadcasting.
Organization of Congress
Positions held within congress to help organize workflow have influence on policy. Positions include, speaker of the house, majority and minority whips, committee chairs, ratio of representatives in each party etc.
Decentralized Nature of Congress
For every member of congress there is a separate agenda representative of their home jurisdiction. Americans "hate Congress and love their Congressman." Diffusion of power leads to issue networks or policy subsystems.
A term that describes the relationships between the various actors and interests in a particular policy issue. Hugh Heclo promoted this term because it describes a more open policy-making system that contains more actors and relationships than the older iron triangle concept.
Another term for policy network or Issue Network, although the term subsystem implies a somewhat less open, more mutually accommodating set of relationships between members of the subsystem.
Implications for Congress and Policy Making
The tendency for Congress to stick to politically safe casework and pork barrel projects may make the actual act of law making and new policy implementation less politically safe. This means that the status quo is more likely to be maintained and those groups that have less power politically are less likely to receive assistance or agenda space for their issue.
The power of the president has to reject legislation passed by Congress which in turn may attempt to override the veto. This requires that 2/3 of each of the house and the senate members vote to override which is relatively rare.
This occurs when Congress adjourns before the president is given the Constitutionally mandated 10 days to sign or veto a bill. Normally a bill that is unsigned automatically becomes a law, but if Congress adjourns and the president chooses not to sign the law, it is effectively vetoed.
Presidential Policy Advantages in Policy Making
- 1. Use of the veto can sometimes be enough to get both political parties and both houses of congress to work together to form a better deal they know the president will sign.
- 2. As the sole person in the presidency, there is singlemindedness that drives all policymaking activities that is impossible in Congress. The president's entire staff is there to support his policy priorities.
- 3. Gains more media and public attention than any single elected official in the US. The president is the symbol of the American people and the government. Thus, he has increased power through increased presence.
- Although he sets his policy priorities the end result may not always match what he intended as all other official actors influence the process. The president controls the flow of ideas and issues to a manageable volume based on his preferences.
- 1. A term of derision used for any complicated, cumbersome process characterized by paperwork, unresponsiveness, and slow results.
- 2. A system of social organization in which tasks are divided among bureaus each of which follows particular procedures to evenhandedly administer rules.
- 3. The organization that administers government through rules and procedures.
Features of Bureaucracy (Pg. 111)
- Fixed jurisdictional areas
- Hierarchical organization
- Historical documentation (record keeping)
- Expert training of staff (advanced degrees required)
- Leadership of the organization requires a full-time job
- Standardized operating procedures
Goods that, once provided for one user are provided for everyone, such as national defense or police services; economists say that public goods are indivisible and non-exclusive because they cannot be divided into parts for individuals to consume and because one person's use of the good does not deny others the use of the good.
A free rider is someone who consumes a good provided to everyone but does not pay for it. This problem is free riding and is one rationale for the government's provision of public goods.
The ability of agencies in government to make decisions without the explicit direction or consent of any other branch of government. Some agencies have a great deal of bureaucratic discretion, while others have very limited discretion.
The power of the courts to review the acts of the legislature and the executive branch and to strike them down if the courts find them to be unconstitutional. This power was first proclaimed by the court in Marbury v Madison in 1803.
Marbury v Madison
The case in which the Supreme Court claimed the power of judicial review, which is the power to declare the acts of any state or of any federal official in the legislative or executive branch unconstitutional and therefore void.
Courts and Policy Making
The courts are setting the constitutional boundaries of the law with every decision. The changing definitions of these boundaries allow the courts to make public policy.