Executive Governance: Presidential Administrations and Policy Change in the Federal Bureaucracy

By Cornell G. Hooton | Go to book overview

7
Processes of Policy Change:
Definition

To endure, a policy must translate into widely known and understood operational components that careerists at the "organizational base" have accepted as part of their regular tasks and workload. The transformation minimizes the policy's need for ongoing top-down oversight, management, and direction to define and coordinate choices. Previous chapters address how a bureau's political executives can manage bureaucratic action directly by personally controlling individual cases in the workload and, indirectly, framing criteria for careerists to apply to the caseload. Accordingly, the previous chapters examine how more formal statements of policy institute certain practices as durable policies. But those chapters do not explore how readily policy preferences translate into detailed tasks, standards, and routines among the relevant career officials of the "organizational base." This chapter explores how readily top-down policy preferences mesh with disaggregate, bottom-up patterns of behavior and what political officials can do to support this administrative implementation.

Thus, while earlier chapters concentrate on decision-making among individual careerists, chapters 6 and 7 focus on the difficulties of organizing action, after, as it were, executives have selected a policy. Chapter 6 addresses the top-down communication of preferences and how those policies achieve ongoing attention through institutionalization. This chapter examines the bottom-up difficulties of defining operational practices and gives particular attention to two factors: careerists' policy approval and their policy-relevant working schema. The empirical basis for this chapter is a structured set of cases from UMTA, and some comparisons to Federal Highways. Chapters 6 and 7 thereby integrate the individual-level considerations from the earlier chapters into a more systemic, organizational frame.


1. Task and Conception

The Framing of Action

Well-established tasks, standards, and routines supply the people in a bureau with a stock of already coordinated activities, with which the bureau can readily

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