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Brookings Institution Press
In the Web of Politics: Three Decades of the U.S. Federal Executive / Edition 1

In the Web of Politics: Three Decades of the U.S. Federal Executive / Edition 1

by Joel D. Aberbach
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This book examines the controversy surrounding the federal bureaucracy since the early 1970s, focusing on three major themes. The first, often called the "quiet crisis" of American administration, concerns the alleged decline in the quality and morale of federal executives. The second, the "noisy crisis," refers to bureaucratic responsiveness to political authority, and to efforts made by political authorities to gain control of the bureaucracy. The third theme is the recent movement to "reinvent" American government.

Joel D. Aberbach and Bert A. Rockman cast light on the relationship between top civil servants and political leaders, using interviews conducted over three decades. They find that the quality and morale of federal executives have held up remarkably well in the face of intense criticism, and that the bureaucracy has changed significantly over time in response to changes in presidential administrations. The authors conclude that many of the bureaucratic problems that the reinvention movement proclaims it will solve by administrative means are, in fact, created by the political decisionmaking process.

About the Authors:
Joel D. Aberbach is professor of political science and policy studies and director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA. His previous books include Keeping a Watchful Eye: The Politics of Congressional Oversight (1990).

Bert A. Rockman is the university professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Most recently, he has co-edited, and contributed to, The Clinton Legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900815700615
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
Publication date: 05/01/2000
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 242
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Reforming the Bureaucracy
Chapter 2: Three Decades of the Federal Executive
Chapter 3: Representation, Democratic Norms, and Quality
Chapter 4: Who Are the Federal Executives? A Longitudinal Analysis
Chapter 5: Responsiveness Dilemmas
Chapter 6: Political Responsiveness: Facts and Fables
Chapter 7: Reinventing Government
Chapter 8: The Federal Executive in the Web of Politics
Appendix: Sampling and Interviewing Federal Executives

What People are Saying About This

James P. Pfiffner

The all-star scholarly team of Aberbach and Rockman has again produced a high-quality analysis of our top-level public executives. Their insightful analysis reassures us about the quality and responsiveness of federal career executives, while at the same time explaining that public dissatisfaction with government stems from political judgments rather than managerial problems in government programs.
—(James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University)

Colin Campbell

This eagerly awaited volume issues from one of the few empirical studies of executive-bureaucratic politics in the federal arena over the past three decades. Its coauthors participated with Robert Putnam in a hugely important 1981 book, Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies which has proven to be the most often cited work in the field. All of this makes In the Web of Politics must reading—more so because this book presents an exquisitely crafted treatment of an American conundrum which only politicians can solve.
— (Colin Campbell, Georgetown University)

Graham K. Wilson

The product of meticulous scholarship, In the Web of Politics is the most important book on the federal executive branch to appear in decades. It is essential reading not only for those who seek to understand American government, but for those who try to understand the changing relationship between bureaucrats and politicians worldwide.
—(Graham K. Wilson, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

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