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Independent Agencies & Government Corporations
The purpose of independent agencies and government corporations is to help provide services to the public, handle areas that have become too complex for government to handle and keep the government operating efficiently. Let’s take a closer look at their purpose and how they affect everyday business through our technology company Pear Products.
Purposes of Independent Agencies
Independent agencies are the main source of contact that business and the public has with government. For example, many individuals have visited Social Security offices for personal business. Pear Products is affected every day by numerous independent agencies. Let’s take a look at how the agencies affect companies like Pear Products and their employees.
Independent agencies have:
- Regulatory powers that allow them to help propose and establish new regulations for the Federal Register. For example, the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, manages all areas of the U.S. labor laws. Pear Products recently had to recognize the formation of a union by their factory workers that was approved via a vote administered by the NLRB.
- Special services powers that allow them to provide needed services directly to the public, such as the Social Security Administration or the United States Postal Service. Pear Products depends upon the U.S. Postal Service for delivery of their products to customers, while their employees depend upon the Social Security Administration.
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- Create uniformity for complex organization.
- Improves fairness and makes personnel interchangeable.
MODELS OF BUREAUCRACY
Bureaucracies are complex institutions designed to accomplish specific tasks. This complexity, and the fact that they are organizations composed of human beings, can make it challenging for us to understand how bureaucracies work. Sociologists, however, have developed a number of models for understanding the process. Each model highlights specific traits that help explain the organizational behavior of governing bodies and associated functions.
The Weberian Model
The classic model of bureaucracy is typically called the ideal Weberian model, and it was developed by Max Weber, an early German sociologist. Weber argued that the increasing complexity of life would simultaneously increase the demands of citizens for government services. Therefore, the ideal type of bureaucracy, the Weberian model, was one in which agencies are apolitical, hierarchically organized, and governed by formal procedures.
Furthermore, specialized bureaucrats would be better able to solve problems through logical reasoning. Such efforts would eliminate entrenched patronage, stop problematic decision-making by those in charge, provide a system for managing and performing repetitive tasks that required little or no discretion, impose order and efficiency, create a clear understanding of the service provided, reduce arbitrariness, ensure accountability, and limit discretion.
The Acquisitive Model
For Weber, as his ideal type suggests, the bureaucracy was not only necessary but also a positive human development. Later sociologists have not always looked so favorably upon bureaucracies, and they have developed alternate models to explain how and why bureaucracies function. One such model is called the acquisitive model of bureaucracy. The acquisitive model proposes that bureaucracies are naturally competitive and power-hungry. This means bureaucrats, especially at the highest levels, recognize that limited resources are available to feed bureaucracies, so they will work to enhance the status of their own bureaucracy to the detriment of others.
This effort can sometimes take the form of merely emphasizing to Congress the value of their bureaucratic task, but it also means the bureaucracy will attempt to maximize its budget by depleting all its allotted resources each year. This ploy makes it more difficult for legislators to cut the bureaucracy’s future budget, a strategy that succeeds at the expense of thrift. In this way, the bureaucracy will eventually grow far beyond what is necessary and create bureaucratic waste that would otherwise be spent more efficiently among the other bureaucracies.
There are currently fifteen cabinet departments in the federal government. Cabinet departments are major executive offices that are directly accountable to the president. They include the Departments of State, Defense, Education, Treasury, and several others. Occasionally, a department will be eliminated when government officials decide its tasks no longer need direct presidential and congressional oversight, such as happened to the Post Office Department in 1970.