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bureaucratic politics

Bureaucratic politics theories or explanations of why particular public policy decisions got made the way they did stress the motivation by the relevant officials in the government bureaucracy to protect or promote their own agency's special interests (in competition with other agencies) as a major motivating factor in shaping the timing and the content of government decisions. Each bureau (or other governmental sub-division) continually strives to maximize its budget and its authorized manpower, as well as to protect or extend its operating autonomy and discretion in decision-making in the area of its assigned responsibilities. Often this can be most readily accomplished by lobbying for an expansion of the scope of the bureau's responsibilities that are prescribed by Congress or the legislature. Because bureaucratic agencies are in competition with each other for budget shares and for personnel allocations as well as for gaining responsibility for juicy new programs justifying expansion, the policies and policy recommendations generated in the executive branch of the government and passed on to both the chief executive and the legislative authorities are often better understood as the by-product of bureaucratic turf-battles and expedient compromises between bureaucratic chieftains than as the product of reasoned analysis of how most effectively and efficiently to carry out the policy commitments of the elected chief executive or to serve the public interest.

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