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In The Web Of Politics: Three Decades Of The U.s. Federal Executive
by Joel D. Aberbach And Bert A. Rockman
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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 Author
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.
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