The Bureaucratic system in today’s government is quite powerful. The ability to create and implement rules and regulations without congressional approval allows for an unprecedented control over many government agencies. But is the Bureaucracy strong enough to stand on its own with the 3 major branches of government?
Bureaucracy as a Forth Branch
The rise of the American Bureaucracy is gaining momentum. More and more government agencies are being created to regulate and mainstream the government process. Organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have become well known for their policy implementations that ultimately affect the entire country. The bureaucracy is formed at the hands of the president when he is given the power from congress to handle issues. Agencies are formed and practically given free reign as long as the issue at hand is dealt with.
Although originally created by the executive branch, these agencies have become more or less self-sufficient, answering mainly to the executive branch. Over time the groups of departments have been reconstructed to best suit ideals of the President of the United States and the Executive branch. Department heads and high ranking supervisors have been replaced with political appointees placed by the president (Singer, P. 2005). This ensures that these organizations remain loyal to the presidential cause. As the presidential office changes hands, more often than not the appointees are switched out as well.
Bureaucracy within these independent agencies has become very powerful. These agencies have the ability to create and implement rules and regulations that affect many different public and private sector organization and even the public without needing the approval of congress. This alone can tip the power of the executive branch in their favor. On the other hand, regardless of who is heading the executive branch, the bureaucracy continues to grow and shape itself to how it sees fit (Long, R. 2013). For example, instead of passing a law for health care reform, congress passed a law giving the Obama administration the power to create the reform. So while the main objective is met, the fine print and rules are free to be set by the organization creating the Affordable Care Act (Williamson, K. D. 2013).
As powerful as some independent agencies have become, they are still at the mercy of the executive branch. To help counteract the rising authority of the bureaucracy, proposals have been made to require government agencies to continually justify their existence (Singer, P. 2005). In other words, if a department has been found to be obsolete or unnecessary, it can be terminated. This gives the president great power to influence the nation. If he/she believes something needs to be done or changed, they can appoint new people in charge of a certain department or terminate an agency that goes against what they want and start a new one in its place that has the president’s ideals in mind.
Some may think that the bureaucracy within independent organizations is a good thing. They have proven to help streamline productivity and reduce costs. The EPA has implemented new regulations that have been beneficial to the world. They have cracked down on such organizations as power plants to ensure that their emissions are up to code and reduce the amount pollution released into the environment (Singer, P. 2005).
While independent government agencies and the bureaucracy within them may be strong, they can always be controlled if need be. Since they are at the mercy of the executive branch, unless that branch gives them their own power, they will never be able to stand with or against the Executive, Judicial or Congressional branches of government. Checks and balances are in place for a reason. In order to run a prosperous government, everyone needs to be working together. Independent government agencies should not be allowed to run as freely as they do. If the president needs congress’s approval in order to implement a new law, so should the bureaucracy.