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Government & The American EconomyA New History$
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Price V. Fishback

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226251271

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226251295.001.0001

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The Federal Bureaucracy: From Patronage to Civil Service

The Federal Bureaucracy: From Patronage to Civil Service

(p.364) 12 The Federal Bureaucracy: From Patronage to Civil Service
Government & The American Economy

Gary D. Libecap

University of Chicago Press

Via a myriad of social programs, regulations, taxes, and payments, the federal government permeates virtually every aspect of life in the United States. The current federal bureaucracy is largely autonomous. It generally is insulated from political control by politicians by civil service rules, and there are few institutional provisions within the civil service system to encourage efficiency in delivery or responsiveness to citizens. Although there had been earlier attempts to enact merit-hiring legislation, the shift from patronage to merit began with the Pendleton Act of 1883. This chapter describes the development of the federal bureaucracy in the United States from a system run primarily via patronage to the modern civil service system. It also examines the role of federal employees' unions in the growth of the civil service system, federal salaries and job tenure, and the emergence of an autonomous federal bureaucracy.

Keywords:   federal bureaucracy, United States, civil service, patronage, Pendleton Act, employees' unions, salaries, job tenure, merit

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