AP US Government : Political Role of the Bureaucracy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Which of these laws prevents government employees in the executive branch from engaging in political campaign activities?

Possible Answers:

The Pendleton Act

The Powers Act

The Habeas Act

The Ethics and Rights Act

The Hatch Act

Correct answer:

The Hatch Act

Explanation:

The Hatch Act of 1939 was created to prevent employees of the executive branch from participating in campaigns and political activities.

Example Question #2 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

The Hatch Act of 1939 states that __________.

Possible Answers:

government employees should be hired on merit alone and not based on political favors

the government can make no laws regarding the establishment of an official religion

all United States employers are required to act without discrimination on the base of race, gender, or sexual orientation

the efforts of the Social Security program Medicaid should be extended to the elderly as well as just the poor

employees of the Executive Branch of the government cannot engage in partisan political activities

Correct answer:

employees of the Executive Branch of the government cannot engage in partisan political activities

Explanation:

The Hatch Act of 1939 was issued in response to allegations of corruption and electioneering brought against certain Democrat members of the Executive Branch. It was alleged, and later largely proven, that many lower employees of the executive branch had undertaken actions to help the party carry certain swing states in the election of 1938, among other things. The Hatch Act of 1939 ruled that employees of the Executive Branch cannot engage in partisan political activities, with the exception of the president and certain other high-profile figures.

Example Question #3 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Which government organization regulates the nation’s money supply?

Possible Answers:

The Federal Reserve

The House of Representatives

The Department of the Interior

The Senate

The Secretary of State

Correct answer:

The Federal Reserve

Explanation:

Since its creation in 1913, the Federal Reserve is tasked with regulating the money supply in the United States, among other responsibilities. It serves as the central bank of the United States and its primary duty is to prevent financial panics and maintain the stability of the financial system. Its record could probably be interpreted as long periods of success with the occasional massive catastrophes, but most economic experts agree that this is much better than the far more frequent financial panics that occurred in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Example Question #1 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Bureaucracies often fall prey to ____________.

Possible Answers:

Increased Oversight

None of these

Iron Triangle(s)

Lack of Oversight

Static Incumbents

Correct answer:

Iron Triangle(s)

Explanation:

The correct answer is “iron triangle.” An iron triangle is, well, a triangle including an interest group, congress, and the bureaucracy. Essentially the interest group (or, oftentimes a regulated industry represented by an interest group) sinks money and time into lobbying Congress to vote or act a certain way. Specifically, whichever Congress members are on the (sub)committee that oversees the bureaucracy responsible for regulating the industry. Thus, by lobbying Congress, who then pressures the bureaucracy, the regulated industry manages to create policy that meets their preferences. In more concrete terms, pretend that the regulated industry is McDoogans. Pretend further that the Committee on Fat Foods is responsible for overseeing the agency which regulates McDoogans. Well, McDoogans (or an interest group acting on behalf of, or in the interests of McDoogans) spends time, money, and effort to lobby the Committee on Fat Foods. The Committee on Fat Foods responds by pressuring the agency monitoring McDoogans to create policy favorable to McDoogans!

Example Question #5 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Agencies (bureaucracies) are involved in policy making.

Possible Answers:

False, bureaucrats are not elected, and thus cannot be involved in policy making

 True, due to the often general nature of the laws passed in Congress bureaucracies, although not elected are involved in policy making

False, only Congress is involved in policy making

False, only the President is involved in policy making

None of these

Correct answer:

 True, due to the often general nature of the laws passed in Congress bureaucracies, although not elected are involved in policy making

Explanation:

This is an interesting question. Basically, while bureaucrats aren’t elected, and thus you’d think that they can’t make policy, that would be incorrect! Congress oftentimes passes very general laws (that is laws that leave quite a few questions unanswered) and leaves the specifics to the bureaucracies. Bureaucrats fill in the blanks through a process called “rule-making,” which is far beyond the scope of your course (there are entire law courses devoted to it!). Regardless, bureaucracies are involved in policy making.

Example Question #2 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Which of the following presidents advocated the “spoils system?”

Possible Answers:

Washington

 Jackson

None of these

Adams

Monroe

Correct answer:

 Jackson

Explanation:

This should have been a relatively simple question, due to the answer choices. If you recall from American History (or, in reality, the brief introduction you got in American Government), the Jacksonian presidency heralded a new era in American Politics—that of increased democracy, in more than one way. In terms of this question, Jackson ushered in the “spoils system,” in which Jackson’s supporters gained various bureaucratic appointments because they supported him. “To the victor goes the spoils” in politics.

Example Question #3 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Which of the following events led to the demise of the spoils system?

Possible Answers:

 The assassination of President James Garfield

The assassination of President Abe Lincoln

None of these

The attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan

The assassination of John F. Kennedy

Correct answer:

 The assassination of President James Garfield

Explanation:

This is a relatively difficult question. The correct answer is “the assassination of President James Garfield.” Charles Guiteau assassinated Garfield after Garfield and his entire administration refused to appoint Guiteau to a diplomatic post overseas. Guiteau believed (likely incorrectly) that he was responsible for Garfield’s election, and thus believed that he deserved a bureaucratic appointment. He became enraged when he did not get it, and killed Garfield some time later. This, in turn, led to the demise of the spoils system, and civil service reform under the Pendleton Act.

Example Question #8 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

The Pendleton Act included which of the following?

Possible Answers:

 10% of bureaucratic jobs must be hired based off of merit

20% of bureaucratic jobs must be hired based off of political pressure

 20% of bureaucratic jobs must be hired off of merit

None of these

10% of bureaucratic jobs must be hired based off of political pressure

Correct answer:

 10% of bureaucratic jobs must be hired based off of merit

Explanation:

The Pendleton Act (most importantly) included the requirement that 10% of bureaucratic jobs must be hired based off of merit, turning around (or at least beginning to turn around) the spoils system. This, of course, was in response to the assassination of President James Garfield by a deranged civil-service seeker.

Example Question #9 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Which of the following statements about the bureaucracy is true?

Possible Answers:

None of these

High-ranking bureaucrats who owe their jobs to Presidential appointments exercise great control over their merit-employed subordinates.

The American people, as a whole, overwhelmingly dislike civil servants and disapprove of their overall job performance.

Recent years have seen both state and local bureaucracies begin to expand in size, but the federal bureaucracy has actually diminished.

Bureaucratic employees are quite unrepresentative of the wider American public, especially when compared to Congressmen or members of the armed forces.

Correct answer:

Recent years have seen both state and local bureaucracies begin to expand in size, but the federal bureaucracy has actually diminished.

Explanation:

The federal bureaucracy has actually begun to shrink in size over recent years, partially due to public concerns over so-called “big government,” motivated as well by suspicions of rampant inefficiency and widespread corruption. State and local governments, however, have continued to grow their bureaucratic structures, hiring more and more civilians, many of whom administer federally-mandated and/or funded programs run by the states. By and large, members of the bureaucracy are actually much more representative of the American public than other government officials, most notably in terms of gender and education level. Perhaps this helps account for the overall favorable opinion of bureaucrats held by the American people; when polled, most individuals can point to specific civil servants whom they have interacted with in a positive and satisfactory manner. On the matter of Presidential appointments, while the White House can hand out some high-ranking bureaucratic positions to their supporters, these appointees often find that they hold far less sway over their underlings than they had first imagined. This is largely due to the inherent impermanence of these appointees, who are usually removed from office when the new President arrives, a fact of which all other civil servants are all too well aware.

Example Question #10 : Political Role Of The Bureaucracy

Out of all bureaucratic functions, which is generally cited as the most controversial?

Possible Answers:

Deregulation 

Administrative discretion 

Implementation 

None of these

Regulation 

Correct answer:

Regulation 

Explanation:

The most widely controversial of all bureaucratic responsibilities is regulation. Regulation is necessarily one of the basic and widespread functions which bureaucracy must perform, but for many Americans, it is a point of contention. Some people see regulation as the main way that bureaucracies acquire more and more power, unnecessarily and/or unfairly interfering in the lives of daily citizens by placing restrictive rules on everything from mail delivery to purchasing car insurance to the formation of unions. It is also likely that regulation has become a more popular target recently due to the growing trend amongst bureaucratic agencies of more detailed regulatory involvement. The heightening of this trend has led to more public awareness, causing regulatory matters to come under the powerful national spotlight.

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