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Extra resources for Holding bureaucrats accountable: politicians and professionals in St. Louis
The official may not wish to assume the responsibility for unpopular choices, for he or she may fear the political consequences of a challenge to bureau power (Heymann, 1987:80). ) The truly accountable setting might feature skilled bureaucrats bending their expertise in favor of general political guidelines and responding to the special needs of constituents as conveyed by elected representatives. But, ideal settings do not naturally occur. The literature generally tells us that the opposite is more likely: Bureaus at all levels of government appear impervious to political direction.
Nascent professions (where frequently the functions were old but the status new), such as law and medicine, sought to establish the legal boundaries of their practice and alone to determine who was fit to be called a lawyer or doctor (Knott and Miller, 1987:5964). The public sector quickly adopted these formal demarcations based on expertise. Reformers already had organized bureaus according to the principle of specialization and they greatly valued knowledge and the scientific method. Hence, public professionalism was a complement to the Taylorist scientific approach to work (Knott and Miller, 1987:5574).
The end result is that revenue growth is negligible at a time when service demands are rising and infrastructure continues to decay. Significant cutbacks in federal aid during the 1980s also have added to the lack of resources and the difficulty of governing. A further impediment is the fragmentation of municipal government. In addition to a city's regular functional bureaus, mayors must deal with Page 11 Table 1-1. Factors Affecting Accountability at the Local LevelFactors Conducive to AccountabilityFactors that Inhibit AccountabilityFunctional organization Political culture Council elected from districts Partisan elections Mayor as chief executive History of machine politicsUnionization Tenure Longevity Voting strength Fiscal crisis Expertise Fragmentation Reform tradition more independent boards and commissions and numerous other governmental actors in neighboring jurisdictions and at other levels of government (Yates, 1977:146).