The President as Chief Executive: The bureaucracy and the presidential branch of government


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The President as Chief Executive:


  • Should the bureaucracy be mostly a source of expertise that is independent of political control?

  • Or should it be more responsive to direction by the elected Chief Executive?



Today…

  • What are the components of the executive branch?

  • How can the president control the executive branch?

  • What are executive orders, and how do they help the president execute the laws?



Head of the Executive Branch?

  • One aide said to President Carter,

  • “I have come to the conclusion that there is only one thing you can do, unilaterally, without getting the bureaucracy involved, or having it go through 14 different levels…it’s the only power you’ve got.

  • And he said, “What’s that?”



“And I said, ‘You’ve got the power to blow up the world. Can’t nobody stop you…But if you want anything else to happen and you say, I want this done tomorrow, there ain’t very much you can do to get it done tomorrow. Somebody’s got to write a position paper. Somebody’s got to go through this, or you’ve got to check with Congress.”

    • “And I said, ‘You’ve got the power to blow up the world. Can’t nobody stop you…But if you want anything else to happen and you say, I want this done tomorrow, there ain’t very much you can do to get it done tomorrow. Somebody’s got to write a position paper. Somebody’s got to go through this, or you’ve got to check with Congress.”


Executive Power

  • “The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

  • --Article II, Section I

  • “He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

  • --Article II, Section III



Bureaucracy in the Constitution

  • Article II, Section 2:

  • “[the President] may require the Opinion in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices…”

  •                                                                

  • “The Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Offices, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”



19th century Cabinet Departments

  • 1789: State, Treasury, War

  • 1798: Navy

  • 1849: Interior

  • 1870: Justice

  • 1872: Post Office

  • 1889: Agriculture

  • 1903: Commerce and Labor

    • (split in 1913 into Commerce Dept. and Labor Dept.)


New 20th Century Cabinet Depts.

  • 1947: Defense (from War)

  • 1953: Health, Education & Welfare

    • (split into HHS and Education in 1973)
  • 1965: Housing and Urban Development

  • 1966: Transportation

  • 1977: Energy

  • 1979: Education

  • 1989: Veterans’ Affairs

  • 2003: Homeland Security



Appointments and Confirmations

  • 12 cabinet appointments have been rejected:

    • 1834: Taney
    • 1843: Cushing (three times!)
    • 1844: Henshaw; Porter; Green
    • 1868: Stanberry
    • 1925: Warren (twice)
    • 1959: Strauss
    • 1989: John Tower


How can the president control the bureaucracy?

  • #1: Control who’s running it

  • Cabinet Secretaries

  • The problem of Bureaucratic Capture

  • Jimmy Carter’s Senior Executive Service

  • Reagan’s Office of Personnel Management



How can the president control the bureaucracy?

  • #2: Control its budget

  • 19th Century

  • Bureau of the Budget

  • Office of Management and Budget



How can the president control the bureaucracy?

  • #3: Control its output: regulations!

  • Quality of Life Review Program

  • Council on Wage-Price Stability

  • Exec. Order 12291—Regulatory Review



Terry Moe: The Presidential Advantage?

  • “Even when the interests of presidents and Congress are in conflict, which is much of the time, presidents have inherent advantages in the realm of institution building that allow them, slowly but surely, to strengthen their hand in the ongoing battle with Congress for control of the bureaucracy.”



The Loyalty-Competence Tradeoff



The Loyalty-Competence Tradeoff

  • Why do presidents distrust the bureaucracy?

  • Why do they face challenges running it?

  • Is resistance from career bureaucrats really a problem?



What qualities are important for an executive appointee to have?

  • Integrity

  • Loyalty

  • Commitment to the President’s Program

  • Ability

    • Intellectual
    • Political
    • Savvy in ways of Washington
    • Interpersonal
    • Managerial!!!


Who do presidents choose? What characteristics seem to be most important to them?



One more presidential tool: The “Presidential Branch” of government



White House Staff in History

  • 19th Century

  • 1900: 13 staffers

  • 1950:

    • 313 White House staff
    • 1326 Executive Office of the President staff


Report of the Brownlow Committee

  • “The President needs help. His immediate staff assistance is entirely inadequate. He should be given a small number of executive assistants who would be his direct aides in dealing with the managerial agencies and administrative departments of the government…”



Report of the Brownlow Committee

  • “These aides would have no power to make decisions or issue instructions in their own right…They should be possessed of high competence, great physical vigor and a passion for anonymity. They should be installed in the White House itself, directly accessible to the president.”







Growth of the Presidential Branch (number of staff)



President Bush’s White House Staff

  • White House Cabinet Affairs Office

  • White House Communications Office

    • Speechwriting
    • Media Affairs
    • Press Secretary
  • Office of Counsel to the President

  • First Lady’s Office

  • Correspondence

  • Intergovernmental Affairs



Executive Office of the President Agencies

  • Council of Economic

  • Advisers

  • Council on Economic Quality

  • National Security Council

  • Office of Management and

  • Budget

  • Office of Administration

  • Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives

  • President’s Critical

  • Infrastructure Protection

  • Board



The Plum Book



Management Strategies

  • Competitive

  • Hierarchical

  • Collegial



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