Why do policymakers select certain problems for attention and ignore others? Why do some policy ideas fail and other succeed? In addition to the President, Congress and Supreme Court what other institutions are influential in shaping public policies? How do policymakers design and implement policies? How do those policies ultimately influence the nation? Providing answers to these and other questions are the focus of this book. The practice of politics and policymaking is complicated, involving thousands of people in government institutions and the private sector. Although each public law and public policy has a unique history, Politics and Public Policy is designed to help students understand the larger patterns of the policy making process.

Bureaucratic Politics

Bureaucratic politics

The federal government employs just over 2.8 million civilians. State and local governments account for just under 20 million additional public employees.1 Congress, the presidency, and the courts, with their sup­porting coterie of staff members, advisers, and patronage appointees, make up about 2 percent of the federal total, and their institutional counterparts at the state and local levels claim similarly small shares of their public workforces. Most government employees work in executive branch agencies administering programs or providing services to citizens; these workers are referred to as bureaucrats. The American bureaucracy, or the “administrative state,” is often said to constitute a fourth branch of government.2

These bureaucrats work in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office in Philadelphia sorting tax returns, entering information ...

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