Holding Government Bureaucracies Accountable

By Bernard Rosen | Go to book overview
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appeal and therefore coverage is minimal unless the administrative action seriously affects the powerful or the poor, or is otherwise newsworthy.

Probably the most important continuing actions taken by the news media that enhance accountability are reports made about activities of individuals or groups who seek to influence public policy and the controversy they generate. Wide publicity about significant differences over policy, program, and performance between agency administrators and other executive agencies, legislative committees, interest groups, and courts alerts and educates the citizenry.


Individual citizens and all of the institutions discussed in this chapter have some capacity for holding public administrators accountable. At various times their actions are redundant, intimidating, harassing, costly, and ineffective. More often they are constructive and productive. Strengths and weaknesses of these accountability agents will be apparent as specific policies and processes are discussed in succeeding chapters.

James Madison, "Checks and Balances", in Hamilton, Madison, and Jay on the Constitution, ed. Ralph H. Gabriel ( New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1954), pp. 72-77.
Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52 ( 1926).
William McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 53.
U.S. Constitution, Art. 2, Sec. 2.
272 U.S. 52 ( 1926).
Bernard Rosen, Monograph on the Merit System in the United States Civil Service, prepared for the U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, 94th Cong., 1st sess., 1975.
Report on the Presidency ( Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Public Administration, 1988), chapter 4.
Washington Post, August 12, 1979, sec. 1, p. 1.
Survey conducted by author in spring of 1988.
"Can the Government Regulate Itself?" The Public Interest (Winter 1977), pp. 3-14.
Information Security ( Washington, D.C.: U.S. General Accounting Office, GAO/AIMD-96-110, September 1996).
60 Stat. 132, Sect. 136 ( 1946).
421 U.S. 491 ( 1975).
Watergate: Its Implications for Responsible Government (Report prepared by panel of the National Academy of Public Administration at the request of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, 1974), pp. 71-72.


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