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The New Case for Bureaucracy

The New Case for Bureaucracy

February 2014 | 256 pages | CQ Press
Charles Goodsell has long taken the position that U.S. bureaucracy is neither a generalized failure nor sinkhole of waste as mythologized by anti-government ideologues. Rather, it is one of the most effective and innovate sets of administrative institutions of any government in the world today. Indispensable to our democracy, it keeps government reliable and dependable to the citizens it serves. However, The New Case for Bureaucracy goes beyond empirically verifying its quality. Now an extended essay, written in a conversational tone, Goodsell expects readers to form their own judgments. At a time when Congress is locked in partisan and factional deadlock, he argues for the increased importance of bureaucrats and discusses how federal agencies must battle to keep alive in terms of resources and be strong enough to retain the integrity of their missions. While bureaucracy is not a substitute for policymaking by elected officials, it keeps the machinery of government running smoothly to meet the ever changing needs of the country, despite the challenges of federal sequester and shutdown.

2. Electoral Context and Strategy

“This book is one of the few that expressly takes on the myths of bureaucracy. With greater conservatism in Congress and in the media, these myths have received enough attention to be seen as truths to a significant portion of the American public; even some political science textbooks propagate the myths. Dr. Goodsell's book counters those stereotypes by using empirical data to argue for the bureaucracy and the critical role that administrators play in the American political system.”

Kimberly Nelson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“The book’s primary strength is the force of the argument put forth by the author in support of the U.S. bureaucracy. Since many of my students will go on to public careers, this book provides them with a strong positive argument for their future careers. It also does a great job of debunking the myths with data and analysis.”

Mark Morris
Miami University

“Goodsell debunks pejorative bureaucratic myths about governance at the national, state, and local levels by placing them under an intellectual and pragmatic microscope. At a time when Congress and elected officials have the lowest approval ratings in history, Goodsell expertly examines the new bureaucratic realities with a focus on the earned trust in public servants who wisely use their administrative discretion to ensure the institutions of government are responsive to the demands of the citizenry; while ensuring their capacity to function are preserved and protected.  His new case for bureaucracy is a must read for those who desire to know the truth about our valued public servants.”

William M. Haraway III
University of West Florida

“Charles Goodsell has a gift for telling the story of public bureaucracies. This book is no exception. The New Case for Bureaucracy, weaves together contemporary examples of bureaucracy in action and emergent research on the context of  public administration to facilitate a spirited discourse on the relevance, legitimacy, and impact of public bureaucracies and the individuals who serve in public agencies today.” 

Maja Husar Holmes
West Virginia University

Excellent book for perspectives on bureaucracy and public service.

Dr Suzanne Beaumaster
Public and Health Admin Dept, University Of La Verne
April 2, 2020
Key features


  • Authorship — the beloved and highly-respected scholar makes an impassioned and empirically backed argument while showcasing and synthesizing important work from the public administration literature.
  • The book takes an unapologetic positive outlook on the U.S bureaucracy and its bureaucrats, inspiring students while combating myths and negative stereotypes.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

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