Bell Ringers
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By sunshinecavalluzzi
On April 15, 2019

Bell Ringer: The Federal Bureaucracy

"Congress Doesn't Legislate, They Delegate" - The Role of the Federal Bureaucracy

Hillsdale College Professor Paul Moreno discusses the growth and impact of the American bureaucracy.


The federal bureaucracy, encompassing millions of employees and hundreds of agencies, departments, and commissions, is the umbrella term used to describe government officials, housed within the executive branch, who are tasked with policy implementation, administration, and regulation. Bureaucrats have varying degrees of autonomy and expertise, but since Progressive-Era civil service reforms, have generally been policy experts hired on the basis of merit and granted greater job security than other federal officials.

Bell Ringer Assignment

  • When, according to Professor Moreno, did the “administrative apparatus” begin? What were the “four waves” involved in creation of what he terms the “American state?”
  • Why does Professor Moreno assert that “Congress doesn’t legislate, they delegate?”
  • What are a few examples given by Professor Moreno of the impact of bureaucratic agencies on the lives of everyday Americans?
  • AP Government - Questions to Consider: To what extent do the powers/impact of the bureaucracy align with the assertions of Federalist 70? How is the "delegate, not legislate" approach of Congress potentially influenced by Congressional leadership powers, partisanship, and decentralization? How do iron triangles connect to the assertions of Professor Moreno?

Additional Resources



    • Executive Branch
    • Federal Agencies
    • Federal Bureuacracy
    • Policy Implementation


    AP U.S. Government Key TermsEducationEnvironmental Policy & Land UseExecutive BranchSocial Services U.S. History


    Middle SchoolHigh School