Discussion Questions

Instructions: Choose ONE of the following questions from each group. Use 1 – 2 sources per question. There is no page number requirements as long as the questions are answered completely.

Group 1:

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1. Describe the “relatively uncontrollable outlays” in the federal budget and the kinds of expenditures in that category. Explain why the president and Congress allow these to take up so large a part of the federal budget.

2. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the incremental method of budgeting.

Group 2:

1. Describe how the General Schedule and Executive Schedule function as a means of compensating federal employees and adjusting that compensation periodically.

2. A major motive behind the current movement to reform the civil service system is that supervisors find it hard to motivate and reward the strong performers in their agencies and even harder to eliminate the non-performers and the dysfunctional. Private organizations have more freedom to do both, within the anti-discrimination laws that apply to all employers. Explain why public employees enjoy such enhanced job rights and how the public service would be different if there were no such job protections and immediate or higher supervisors could hire, promote, and fire at will.

Group 3:

1. The Office of Management and Budget is now a major player in the rule-making process, largely to assure that each rule has a positive benefit/cost ratio. Evaluate the difficulty of determining the full range of benefits and costs of a proposed rule, particularly one dealing with the health and safety impacts of products and services.

2. Explain what a regulatory agency must do to enforce its rules effectively and fairly with the businesses under its jurisdiction.

3. Describe the various roles that governments play toward individuals and publics and the constitutional rights and liberties that are at stake in administrative operations.

4.Describe the basic challenges to measuring the performance of government agencies, be sure to define inputs, outputs and outcomes and discuss what is easier to measure and those that are harder, if not impossible, to quantify.

5.Distinguish between policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-experience, using one or more examples

Group 4:

1.Explain the challenges in identifying and preventing conflicts of interest and maintaining personal accountability among those employed by government agencies.

2.Suggest ways in which our society can raise the ethical standards of public administrators or enable/ encourage them to follow the high standards they may already have. This would also encompass their willingness to be “whistle-blowers” when necessary.

Group 5:

1. Evaluate the effectiveness of today’s news media in holding governments accountable. Describe the financial and other incentives they have to expose wrongdoing, and suggest reasons why some media play this role badly or choose not to play it at all.


2. Explain why it is often difficult to enforce ethics laws in federal and state government, considering both the laws themselves and the enforcement process.

3. Identify the major limitations that a chief executive of any large government faces in holding subordinates accountable for proper implementation of policies.

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