Who Makes Public Policy?: The Struggle for Control between Congress and the Executive

By Robert S. Gilmour; Alexis A. Halley et al. | Go to book overview

I
The Struggle for Control of Policy
and Program Development

ROBERT S. GILMOUR AND ALEXIS A. HALLEY

Public policy making in the United States is at best an art form, usually involving a Byzantine and somewhat arcane set of processes and procedures and often a bewildering array of participants. Broadly considered, public policy making encompasses the implementation of discrete governmental programs as well as the development of grand strategic designs. The president and Congress, as well as their staffs, agencies, committees, and councils; the federal judiciary at all levels; sprawling and almost uncountable departments, agencies, and other subunits of the executive branch; "fourth‐ branch" independent regulatory commissions; thousands of politically active interest groups and lobbies; the mass and specialized communications media, both print and electronic; state and local officials and their organizations; hosts of quasi-governmental agencies, special authorities, and government contractors; and even a few academics—all are players in ongoing scenes of the policy-making process. This case book focuses primarily on the two branches of government—Congress and the executive—that are most often at the center of national policy and program development.

The working relationship between Congress and the executive branch is critical to the success or failure of U.S. policies and programs. Neither branch acts alone at any stage of policy and program development. Both play essential roles in the processes of planning, setting, paying for, executing, monitoring, and evaluating national policy. From the purchase and sale of multibillion-dollar weapons systems and the commitment of troops in foreign fields, to the rental of government office space or the processing of a social security claim, Congress and the executive branch are engaged in a daily struggle for control of the overall leadership and management of public policy.

Although both branches periodically proclaim the importance of "greater interbranch cooperation" in addressing the nation's domestic and international challenges, strong but differing institutional orientations toward their respective constituencies, a need for the protection of political

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