Institutionalizing Congress and the Presidency

Institutionalizing Congress and the Presidency : The U.S. Bureau of Efficiency, 1916-1933

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With its creation of the U.S. Bureau of Efficiency in 1916, Congress sought to bring the principles of "scientific management" to the federal government. Although this first staff agency in the executive branch lasted only a relatively short time, it was the first central agency in the federal government dedicated to improving the management of the executive branch. Mordecai Lee offers both a chronological history of the agency and a thematic treatment of the structure, staffing, and work processes of the bureau; its substantive activities; and its effects on the development of both the executive and the legislative branches. Charged with conducting management and policy analyses at the direction of the president, this bureau presaged the emergence of the activist and modern executive branch. The Bureau of Efficiency was also the first legislative branch agency, ushering in the large administrative infrastructure that now supports the policy-making and program oversight roles of Congress. The Bureau of Efficiency's assistance to presidents foreshadowed the eventual change in the role of the president vis-a-vis Congress; it helped opened the separation of powers doctrine by giving the modern executive the management tools for preeminence over the legislative more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 162 x 238 x 26mm | 557.93g
  • Texas A & M University Press
  • College Station, United States
  • English
  • 2 charts, 4 tables, bibliography, index
  • 1585445487
  • 9781585445486

Review quote

"This classy administrative history of the first presidential staff agency provides a microcosm of the challenges any federal agency faces in its dealings with White House, Congress, and departmental turfs. As a unit in the Civil Service Commission (CSC) (1913-1916) and as independent Bureau of Efficiency (1916-1933) (BoE), this agency spans the transfer period between the decline of Congressional government and the ascendancy of the managerial presidency. Lack of solid archival research explains the mixed assessment of the BoE's accomplishments. Lee's study gently yet firmly corrects this. The BoE, initially established to design efficiency ratings for performance evaluations of civil servants, broadened its scope to an all-purpose analysis and investigative unit. It helps in developing policy analysis, management analysis and program evaluation. The author carefully balances attention for the BoE's internal structure and functioning with its operations in a subtly hostile political-administrative environment. Written without jargon and backed by extensive documentation, this study is a delight to read and challenges public administration scholarship to set records straight beyond applied and statistical-quantitative approaches."--Jos Raadschelders, Professor of Public Administration, Henry Bellmon Chair of Public Service, Managing Editor Public Administration Reviewshow more

About Mordecai Lee

MORDECAI LEE, who holds a Ph.D. from Syracuse University, is a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Previously, he served as a state senator as well as legislative assistant to a U.S. more