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Chapter 14 Vocabulary Words


The process of determining if a law or rule established by the bureaucracy has been broken.

Adverse Selection

Principal's lack of information about the abilities of an agent

Advisory Committees

Temporary or permanent organizations created to provide information and technical expertise to the Bureaucracy.

Agency Capture

A term used to describe when an agency seems to operate for the benefit of those whom it is supposed to regulate.

Appointment power

A power of the president that enables him or her to control the bureaucracy by selecting the people who will head its agency's

bounded rationality

Herbert Simon's theory that humans are not utility maximizers as suggested in classical rational choice models. Humans satisfice rather than maximize


The term used to refer to the agencies of the federal government. It also refers to an organizational framework and has negative connotations.

Cabinet departments

The 15 largest and most influential agencies of the federal bureaucracy.

Contracting Out

Hiring a private organization to deliver a public program or service.


The reduction or elimination of government rules and regulations that interfere with the efficient operation of market forces. It is often associated with conservatives who believe that government rules and regulations are a poor substitute for the natural discipline of free markets.

Executive Office of the President

The organizational structure in the executive branch that houses the president's most influential advisors and agencies. The most important include the White House Office, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Council, and the Council of Economic Advisers.

Executive Orders

Directives of the president that have the same weight as law and were not voted on by Congress.

Fire alarm oversight

Oversight that becomes active only when there is evidence of bureaucratic wrongdoing.

Government Corporations

Federally established businesses that are narrow in focus and are in part self-supporting


The limited ability of the president to not spend money appropriated by Congress.

Independent agencies

Federal Agencies that are not part of the cabinet-level executive departments. Members of these agencies serve fixed and overlapping terms and cannot be removed, which limits the president's control of them.

Iron Triangles

A term used to refer to the interdependent relationship among the bureaucracy, interest groups, and congressional committees.

Legislative Intent

The intention of Congress when it passes laws

Legislative veto

Measures that give Congress the ability to reject an action or decision of the Bureaucracy

Merit System

A system of governing in which jobs are given based on relevant technical expertise and the ability to perform.

Moral hazard

Principal's lack of information about he effort of an agent.

Neutral Competence

The idea that agencies should make decisions based on expertise rather than political considerations.

Overhead democracy

The idea that the bureaucracy is controlled through the oversight of elected officials, who are chosen by the people, thus giving the populace control over the bureaucracy.

Police Patrol Oversight

The active oversight of the bureaucracy by elected officials to make sure that they are acting according to the wishes of the people

Policy Subsystems

Networks of groups with an interest in a specific policy issue or area

Principal-agent model

A model explaining the relationship between Congress and the Bureaucracy, which states the relationship is similar to that between an employer who seeks to have work done (the principle) and an employee who does the work (the agent)

Regulatory Agencies and Commissions

Agencies that are independent of cabinet departments and are created by Congress to monitor and regulate specific areas of economic activity


A statement of the bureaucracy that interprets the law or prescribes a specific action. These rules have the force of law


The process of the bureaucracy deciding what the laws passed by Congress mean and how they should be carried out.


The idea that humans consider possible alternatives until they find one that is good enough to solve the problem at hand even though it might not be the "best" possible solution

Spoils System

A system of governing in which political positions and benefits are given to the friends of the winner

Standards of Due Process

The procedural guarantees provided to ensure fair treatment and constitutional rights

Sunshine Laws

Laws intended to keep the bureaucracy accountable to the people by requiring that agency meetings be open to the public

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