The Political Process: Executive Bureau-Legislantive Committee Relations

By J. Leiper Freeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Major Influences of the General Political Setting on the Subsystem

The purpose of this chapter is to explore the nature, extent, and limitations of the influence of the President and other leaders of the Administration, of the Congress, and of the political parties upon the activities and relations of major participants in policy-making subsystems. This, therefore, constitutes an extension and qualification of the autonomy theme outlined in the previous chapter. Attention here, however, will be especially focused upon some key factors in the political setting which either contribute or fail to contribute to patterns of behavior in the subsystem evidencing some responsiveness to presidential, congressional, or partisan viewpoints.


Influence of the President and the Administration on the Subsystem

The President and the Administration possess power which can condition the course of decisions in the subsystem, but which varies in its effect in accordance with several critical factors. One of these factors is the hierarchical control which the Presidency has, via the structure of the Administration, over the bureau leaders. A second factor is the tenuous link between the President and the Administration's leaders on the one hand, and Congressional leaders on the other -- a link which is forged largely out of informal relations built on party, patronage, reciprocal interests, and interpersonal associations. A third and perhaps most crucial factor is the degree to which the President and the top members of the Administration can assert public-opinion leadership, especially leadership of a substantial majority of the public.

Hierarchical Control The pattern of hierarchical control from the Presidency down to a bureau is crucial because it helps determine to what extent bureau leaders feel constrained to "play on the Administration's team" when the political game gets rough. To the extent that it exists, either formally or informally or both, it is perhaps the most direct channel of presidential and administration influence upon the operations of a subsystem. Some of the more formal factors having a positive effect in this regard are budgetary controls, clearance requirements for proposed legisla

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