Presidential oversight of the bureaucracy | Summary and Q&A

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October 25, 2018
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Khan Academy
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Presidential oversight of the bureaucracy

TL;DR

The U.S. President has significant power within the executive branch but is also limited by the size and complexity of the bureaucracy.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main challenge the U.S. President faces in managing the executive branch?

The size and complexity of the bureaucracy, with 2.6 million employees, make managing and exerting control a difficult task for the President.

Q: Can the President fire any employee within the executive branch?

No, the President can only fire senior political appointments without significant consequences. Regular employees cannot be fired without just cause.

Q: How do civil service professionals in the bureaucracy differ from political appointments?

Civil service professionals are not appointed by the President and may not always align with the President's goals. They are part of the bureaucracy's machinery and follow their own interpretations and judgments.

Q: How does the President try to shape the direction of the executive branch?

The President can make appointments, issue executive orders to clarify law interpretations, and attempt to shift responsibilities or budgets within the bureaucracy.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. President, as the head of the executive branch, manages a bureaucracy of 2.6 million people, making it challenging to exert complete control.

  • While the President can make thousands of appointments, most of the federal bureaucracy consists of civil service professionals who may not always align with the President's goals.

  • The President can fire senior political appointments but cannot easily fire regular employees without just cause due to legal restrictions and the principle of separation of powers.

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