University of Colorado at Boulder
Political Science 4938
Internship/Seminar in Politics
Political Science 4938 offers students the opportunity to integrate theoretical concepts related to politics with practical experience in political institutions. The purpose of the course is to allow students to examine the political role of the host institution and how the office goes about fulfilling that function.
The theoretical portion of the course is derived from four required readings, from seminar meetings of the class, from other courses students have taken, and from previous experience in applied political settings. Practical experience is obtained from placements in executive, legislative and judicial offices, in governmental agencies, with lobbyists or interest groups, or with other institutions directly involved in the political process.
There will be seven seminar meetings of the class. Each student will also have two personal conferences with the instructor and will organize an on-site meeting to be attended by herself/himself, the placement supervisor, and the instructor. The times for these meetings will be arranged to accommodate students' class and internship placement schedules.
The seminar meetings will be structured toward allowing students to share their experiences and to assist them in integrating experience into theory. The two personal conferences with the instructor will focus on a review of each student's journal and theoretical papers. The meeting attended by the student, placement supervisor and instructor will review the internship contract with special emphasis on the intern's duties and the structure for supervision. Each student will work for a minimum of sixteen and a maximum of twenty hours per week at an internship placement. These hours are to be divided between tasks for the placement, and independent research and interviews to determine the role of the office. Approved placements have all agreed to provide interns with an intellectually challenging primary task. In addition, each student will receive regularly scheduled direct supervision, will be exposed to other aspects of the functioning of the office/institution, and will be involved in discussion with other individuals concerning the relationship between the intern's duties and the overall political effort of the organization.
Students should be conscious of the fact that an internship is different from an employment situation or donating your time as a volunteer. In an employment situation you have contracted to perform defined tasks in return for renumeration. As a volunteer your primary objective is to further the goals of the organization or individual to whom you are giving your services. An internship is an educational experience. In the selection of a placement, the negotiation of tasks, and the manner in which you approach the completion of tasks, "learning" should be your primary objective.
Interns should provide a benefit to the host institution. As a result, students are expected to maintain their commitments to their host organization and to complete their duties promptly and efficiently. Students are also expected to respect the confidentiality guidelines included in the internship contract. At the same time, while you are on your placement you should be reflective and analytical. Be active rather than passive. Ask questions politely and at the appropriate times. When you meet or hear of people of interest, follow up and make appointments to talk in greater depth later. Take full advantage of the opportunities your internship presents. Most importantly, always ask yourself the theoretical significance of what you are experiencing.
Students are also reminded that while on their placement you are representing the University of Colorado and the Department of Political Science. You are expected to dress and act appropriately. You are not to use your position for personal political advantage or to finance a personal political agenda.
Finally, while you are on your internship, enjoy yourself. Both work and learning should be enjoyable experiences.
Instructor: Thad Tecza
Phone: Office: 492-2985
Home: 322-6207 (Please do not call after 9:00 o.m.)
Office Ketchum 130A
Hours: T-TH 1:50-3:20
Shively, W. POWER AND CHOICE: AN INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL SCIENCE
Second Edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 1991)
Each student is also required to read three additional books selected with the approval of the instructor. Scholarly articles may be substituted for these optional books at the rate of five articles per book. You should consult the SOCIAL SCIENCES INDEX or ask the assistance of a librarian in locating scholarly articles relevant to your internship.
The major purpose of the optional readings is to provide a framework for organizing and orienting the students' learning experience. To this end, the books should provide a general discussion of institutions such as that where a student is placed. Thus, a student interning at the state legislature would want to read about state legislatures in general rather than specifically about the Colorado state legislature.
A secondary purpose of reading is to supplement the students' knowledge of the institution where they are placed. To this end, a history of the office, group, or agency might be appropriate. The secondary purpose, though, should not detract from the major purpose of the optional readings.
Students should seek the advice of the instructor in choosing optional readings. Students are also encouraged to seek the advice of placement supervisors and otherprofessors in the Political Science Department. A list of the department faculty and their major research interests is attached to this syllabus.
Finally, think of professors in other departments at the university who may be able to advise you on appropriate readings as well as the dominant issues related to your internship. For example, someone in the journalism department may be helpful to an intern in a Press Office and someone in Sociology to an intern at an interest group focussing on homeless issues.
INTERNSHIP Discussion (A) Syllabus
(B) Contracts (C) Planning a successful internship (D) Times and dates for future seminar
meetings (E) First paper assignment (F) What is the "political role" of an
student is to bring to class a written statement of their duties as an intern to share with the rest of the class. Students should also write any questions that they have in regard to negotiating appropriate duties. (B) POLITICAL ROLE: Each student is to
bring to class a statement of one way in which they believe their placement allocates values in the society. Students should also include the basis for their belief. These statements are to be typed. They will be turned in after class and graded "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory."
(The class will be divided into three small groups each meeting for one hour) Topic: The Early Internship Discussion (A) WHAT IS ANALYTICAL THOUGHT?
(B) PROBLEMS. Each student is to bring
to class a typed statement of a problem they are having with their internship which they believe can serve as the basis for class discussion and assistance. These statements will be turned in and graded "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." Assignments: (A) SCHEDULE PERSONAL CONFERENCES (B) FIRST PAPER DUE Reading: POWER AND CHOICE (ENTIRE BOOK) 4. Week of Oct. 3-9 Topic: PERSONAL CONFERENCES Discussion (A) JOURNALS (B) ADDITIONAL REQUIRED READINGS (C) CONTRACTS (D) SCHEDULE MEETING with placement supervisor and instructor. (Each student is to bring a list of three or four times during the weeks of Oct. 11-15 when the placement supervisor could meet with the instructor and student at the placement site.) 5. Week of Oct. 17-23 (Small group meetings) Topic: The development of the internship Discussion (A) QUESTIONS: Each student is to bring to class the two questions from their journal which they believe are most likely to provoke discussion among their fellow students. The form of these questions is to include the context that evoked the question. For example, a question might be, "The literature I have read says A about my internship, but I have observed B. How do you think we can reconcile this?" Or, "In my internship I have observed A,B, and C. This leads me to the following question, D. What do you think are ways that I can go about getting an answer to this question?" The questions will be turned in after class and graded "satisfactory" or unsatisfactory." (B) SUGGESTIONS: Each student is to bring to class one written suggestion for other students as a way for learning about the political role of their placement. For example, "I found it helpful to take a look at the log of calls (mail) coming into the office and to try to analyze who they were coming from and what type of information was requested." The questions will be turned in after class and graded"satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." 6. Week of Nov.1-6 (Small group meetings Topic: The Mid-Point of the Internship Discussion THEORETICAL PROPOSITIONS. Each student is to bring to class a written statement of two theoretical propositions which they are testing during their internship and the specific activities they are engaging in to test these propositions will be turned in after the class and graded "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." Assignment (A) MID-TERM PAPER DUE (B) SCHEDULE PERSONAL CONFERENCES Reading: ALL ADDITIONAL ASSIGNED READINGS ARE TO BE TO BE COMPLETED AND INTEGRATED INTO THE MID-TERM PAPER 7. Week of Nov. 14-19 TOPIC: PERSONAL CONFERENCES Discussion (A) JOURNALS (B) VISIT TO ANOTHER INTERNSHIP OR A DAY IN THE LIFE (C) STATUS OF FINAL PAPER Assignment: (A) Visit to another internship or a day in the life are to have been completed. (B) Students are to bring a preliminary outline of their final paper to the second personal conference. 8. Week of Nov. 28-Dec.3 TOPIC: Movement Toward Completion Discussion EXAMPLES: Each student is to bring to class two examples of the way in which their office or institution affects who wins and loses in American politics. One of these examples is to be of a group or individual that benefits from the existence of the institution. The second is to be of a group or individual that is disadvantaged by the existence of this office and why this is the case. These examples will be turned in after the class and graded "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." 9. Week of Dec. 5-11 TOPIC: Analyzing the Internships Discussion (A) LEARNING: Each student will bring statements of three specific beliefs held prior to the internship that were either reinforced, altered, or destroyed by the internship. These statements should include your prior belief, what has happened to that belief, and what occurred in the internship to cause this change. The statements will form a basis for discussion. The questions will be turned in after class and graded "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." (B) IMPROVEMENTS: Each student will bring in a statement of what she/he considered the most important factor in making their internship a good experience and one way in which she/he believes their internship could be improved. Assignment: (A) SCHEDULE EXIT INTERVIEWS (B) FINAL PAPERS DUE (C) CHOOSE STUDENTS TO VISIT INTERNS NEXT SEMESTER ADDITIONAL PROJECTS AND REQUIREMENTS: 1. CONTRACT At the beginning of the placement, each student will present a copy of the "Learning Objectives Contract" to her/his supervisor. The contract is to be completed in considerable detail. One of two sentence descriptions of duties are not acceptable. Specific times when supervisory sessions will take place are required. This contract is due at the second class meeting. This contract will provide the basis for the meeting between the student, placement supervisor, and instructor. Students are cautioned that a contract is a negotiated agreement. You are to be present and have input when it is completed. In order to have input, you need to know some things about what you want to learn on your internship. 2. MEETING In the first personal conference, each student will finalize the time and place for a meeting between the student, the placement supervisor and the instructor. This meeting will review and amend the placement contract. The meeting will occur at the location of each student's placement. 3. INITIAL PAPER At the third class meeting, each student is expected to submit a five page typed paper. This paper should not discuss what you are doing on your internship or conclusions that you have reached about the role it performs in the political system. It is to present an initial theory about the role it performs in the political system. It is to present an initial theory about the role your placement performs in the American political system and the manner in which it performs that role, i.e., what do they do, how do they do it, and why is this politically significant. A theory is a set if inter-related generalizations which seeks to explain some behavior or some aspect of reality. The paper should also present some specific theoretical assertions you wish to test during your internship, eg., Burns, Peltason, and Cronin, Government By the People, say: "The majority of congressional actions are not aimed at producing results for the American people as much as perpetuating the longevity and comfort of the men who run Congress." (p. 271) I would like to examine whether this statement applies in the district office of...In writing this paper, think about the context in which you want to place your experience. What comparisons do you want to make? Are you going to look at whether your office is like other offices at the same level, similar offices at a different level, all interest groups, etc. Again, the initial paper is intended to be a theory for making sense out of your experience. It should present specific questions you want to get answers to while you are there. Also, it should list the things you are going to need to do to answer these questions. Ask yourself if these are things that are possible during your internship. Your initial paper may be derived from reading relevant chapters in an introductory American politics text, from reading you have done from other courses, from reading your placement supervisor suggests, from your prior experience, or from your personal beliefs. To assist you in this process, a few introductory texts have been placed on reserve in the library under the title of this course. Remember, though, that whenever you make an assertion of fact, you must provide a reference for that assertion. Again, your reference can be simply a conversation with a supervisor or a previous course, but you must stillprovide a citation. If you are unsure as to when or how to reference a paper, check at the bookstore or library. There are several simple manuals available. As you write this paper, remember that a political system is a set of human interactions through which valued things are distributed for a society. Political systems determine who gets what,when, and how. Ask yourself how the literature describes the institution where you are placed as playing a role in this process. I have inclined two samples of good initial papers at the end of this syllabus. The additional books or articles that you intend to read should be listed at the end of your initial paper. 4. QUESTIONS, STATEMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, AND EXAMPLES: Each student is responsible for developing, presenting, and discussing questions, statements, problems, and suggestions as described in the particular class meetings. These assignments are to be typed and submitted at the time of class meetings. Late assignments will not be accepted. 5. JOURNAL Each student is required to keep a journal throughout this course. The purpose of the journal is to organize your experience, allow reflections, and chart changes in attitude. There must be an entry for each day of your placement. The entries should be in a full-sized (8 1/2 by 11) spiral notebook maintained solely for this purpose. Your entries should consist of complete sentences with reasonable attention to correct usage, spelling, and punctuation.Your journal entries should include: (A) EXPECTATIONS: Each student should begin his/her journal with a two page summary of their expectations regarding their placement. This should include what sort of organization you expect to be present, what sort of interactions you think you will observe, and what sorts of people you expect to be present. This section should include both positive and negative expectations. (B) A LOG: A log is a concise statement of what happened, who did it, and when it happened. This should include what you did in your internship each day. Your log should be precise, specific, and factual. (C) PERCEPTIONS: Perceptions go beyond a simple log. They note patterns of behavior and insights about what the things that occur mean. Perceptions also include hypotheses about the theoretical importance of events. (D) FEELINGS: Record your feelings about what is occurring, both to you and in your placement setting. Are you afraid, unsure, shocked, pleased, flattered, and why. What do you feel about the people and events you observe? Note any relationships between your feelings and the beliefs you are developing regarding the political role of your placement. (E) FANTASIES: Use your journal to try on different roles in your internship. What would it be like to be the lead person, your supervisor, a client, an opponent, a supporter. What does this tell you about the political role of your placement? (F) INSIGHT PROVOKING QUOTES: Include the "quote of the day" that you found truly noteworthy. (G) LISTS OF: (1) At least three questions provoked by each day at your internship placement. (2) people you want to make appointments to talk to. Each time you meet someone, ask them, "if you wanted to find out about this place, who would you talk to?" (3) things you want to do and places you want to visit before your internship is completed. When you end your internship, you should feel like you are not finished with it. There should be lists of things you still want to do. (H) SPECIALIZED VOCABULARY YOU HAVE LEARNED Write down any specialized vocabulary used on your internship and what it means. (I) VISITOR DAY: A description of your visit to another internship or your day in the life of the person you accompanied. (J) YOURSELF: One of the benefits of this course is that it allows you to examine yourself in a different setting. Focus part of your journal on yourself and your performance in the environment. Your journal should be confidential. It is only to be shared with your instructor. You should learn to inobtrusively make notes for your journal throughout the day. You should set aside a particular time after each day's work on the internship to complete your journal. Do not wait until the next day. You will lose too much insight. 6. VISIT OR FULL "DAY IN THE LIFE OF" Each student is expected to visit at least one other student's internship placement during the semester. You should select the placement for this visit on the basis of its ability to provide an alternative view of the political process, ie., governmental agency. Alternatively, students may select a significant person at your placement and trace "a day in the life" of this person. To carry out this task you should arrange to meet this person as they leave their home in the morning and remain with them until they shut the door behind them at night. The specifics of your visit or "day in the life of and your reflections on it are to be included in your journal. 7. MID-TERM PAPER At the conclusion of the course, each student will submit a major analytical paper. Analysis is the act of examining or dividing something for the purpose of determining its essential components. Analysis always requires placing experience within theory. 8. FINAL PAPER At the conclusion of the course, each student will submit a major analytical paper. Analysis is the act of examining or dividing something for the purpose of determining its essential components. Analysis always requires placing experience within theory. The purpose of the final paper is to measure your experience against the theory you developed in your initial and mid-term papers. To what degree does your experience reinforce, modify, or contradict the theory expressed in the literature you have read? Be careful and thorough. Don't make statements in your final paper that are stronger than your experience will support. Also, to as great a degree as possible, support each statement you make with specific evidence or examples. Don't say, "a conversation with my supervisor lead me to believe." Give the specific statements she or he made why they led you to your conclusion. This paper should tell me about the organization where you did your internship. What type of organization is it and what is its history? What were your duties there? What does the literature say about this type of organization and the political role it plays? What did you seek to examine? How did you go about doing this? Who did you talk to and why? What events and actions did you observe? What conclusions did you reach and specifically what led you to those conclusions? What does this tell me about the political role of the organization? Most importantly, why is this politically incorrect? Remember, nothing makes everyone better off. Who is absolutely or relatively better off as a result if the operation of this organization? Also, politics may be about who benefits more or less. The null hypothesis may be that everyone gets exactly the same benefits from the office. Is this true? Who wins and who loses? How about taxpayers who support it but don't use it? Think about how the money spent on this office or organization could be spent if the office didn't exist. Much of politics is the choice to spend scarce resources on one "good" versus another. Think about the alternative ways to pursue the goals your office pursues. Are these alternatives more or less efficient? Why? Also, discuss what your expectations were regarding your office and the individuals there at the beginning of the semester and the manner in which these expectations were confirmed or contradicted. To orient the analysis in your final paper, focus on how the political system would be different if your institution didn't exit. How does the operation of your placement affect who wins and who loses? Don't just talk about how things operate at you internship. Tell me about what that means in terms of who is better or worse off in society. What does your experience tell us about the American political system and how it operates. Given the length of the final paper, think about how you wish to present your ideas. It may be helpful to provide an introduction and table of contents to orient the reader. Divide the paper into subsections with section headings. Tell the reader what you are going to tell him, tell him, and then tell him what you told him. Finally, as an appendix, your paper should include a sample of any product from your duties as an intern, eg., reports, etc. 9. EVALUATION With the final paper, each student will submit a two page evaluation of her/his internship placement. This evaluation should focus on what your duties were, whether you believe it was a good learning experience, whether you were adequately supervised, and whether you would recommend this placement to future interns. These evaluations should be separate from your final paper so they can be collected and used by future students. 10. THANK YOU LETTERS Each student is expected to write thank-you letters to individuals who played significant roles assisting in the intern during her/his placement. Copies of these letters are to be attached to the final paper. 11. EXIT INTERVIEW In the final semester meeting each student will be given the opportunity to schedule an "exit interview" after the semester. These interviews will review the final paper, discuss the internship generally, and focus on how it can be incorporated as a future learning experience.
12. GRADING The instructor sincerely hopes that each student finds her/his internship placement to be an enjoyable and beneficial learning experience. At the same time, it is crucial to note the academic evaluation in this course is separate form any benefits gained from the participatory experience itself. Grading will be solely the responsibility of the instructor. The grade will be determined by academic performance. The initial paper will contribute ten percent of the final grade. The questions, suggestions, etc., submitted at the seminars will contribute fifteen percent of the final grade. Since these projects are to be the basis of seminar discussions, late material will not be accepted. The midterm paper will contribute twenty-five percent of the final grad. The final paper will contribute fifty percent of the final grade.
ADVICE, COMMENTS & SUGGESTIONS TO STUDENTS FROM STUDENTS
Don't limit yourself to the assigned readings.
Since I was running around the Capitol so much this was one of my main assets when talking to everyone. Even the sergeant at arms and the maids seemed to treat me differently because I was nice to them.
knowing when to be quiet and listen is as important as voicing an opinion. People understand that you are "just an intern" and often
will include you anyway. If not, hopefully your supervisor will cue you in later on what just happened.
In conclusion, keeping oneself armed with questions can be advantageous.
I found that many of the people I wanted to interview did not come around the office after the election.
SAMPLE PAPER #1
For the summer of 1991, I will be serving as an intern at the United States General Accounting Office, Program Evaluation and Methodology Division, Denver Regional Office. The General Accounting Office is one of four Congressional support agencies.(1) More specifically, according to its recruiting material, the General Accounting Office's role is to "support the Congress by auditing and evaluating federal programs and activities." (2) Many theories abound concerning the General Accounting Office. They can be classified into at least three divisions: Relations with Congress (including ideas about the General Accounting Office's role and mission), policy audit and analysis concerns, and operational concerns.
Concerning Congress, the General Accounting Office is one of four agencies intended to support the United States Congress, as stated above. Many theories and critiques express concern about duplication of efforts among these four.(3) Thomas N. Bethell has even referred to as "government by xerox," referring to the idea that the four are "constantly rushing to xerox each other's reports" because they are so similar that they make for good reference material.(4) The General Accounting Office counters this by claiming that "subordinates are regularly instructed to make sure that they are not doing tasks more properly assigned to another office."(5) Additionally as a whole, the four agencies "concede that their projects still often overlap, but they argue that a certain amount of overlap can be valuable because each agency has a unique perspective and provides Congress with important information.(6) I hope to gauge the degree of overlap in efforts by checking to see if there is a similar study of Medicare occurring at the other three agencies. Additionally, I will be checking other recent reports as well.
As the phrase "Congressional support agencies" implies, the General Accounting Office, in theory, has the role of supporting Congress. Each new member of Congress receives a pamphlet entitled "Serving the Congress" which states, "Supporting the Congress is G.A.O.'s fundamental responsibility. We do this by providing a variety of services- the most prominent of which are audits and evaluations (reviews) of federal programs.(7) However straight forward as this seems, the General Accounting Office's independence brings the primary idea of serving Congress into question. During my time at the General Accounting Office I hope to gauge the strength of the Congressional support aim/role in the actual workings of the organization. To this end, I am observing how often and with what tone Congress is considered in the day-to-day workings and how many of G.A.O's are done at the request of Congress (in contrast to how are self-initiated). In other words, I will determine if Congress is the major beneficiary of the organization's work.
Another aspect of its role of supporting Congress is the idea that the General Accounting Office is suppose to be non-partisan and non-political. (8) The office of Comptroller General, as the head of the General Accounting Office, is "politically invulnerable," according to John Heilemann.(9) The presidential appointment carries a fifteen year term (longer than any other position in government, except judges), removable only by an impeachment process.(10) Additionally, it carries a full salary retirement, designed to ensure that it will be the office-holder's last job, thus reducing possibilities of conflict of interest.(11) However, many critics charge that the General Accounting Office has become involved in political and partisan concerns. For example, James C. Miller (President Reagan's second Budget Director) states, "All to frequently, G.A.O. has been politicized by members of Congress..."(12) Similarly, "Republicans in the Reagan and Bush Administrations complain that the G.A.O. is used by senior Democrats in "Congress to 'micromanage' the executive branch," according to the New York Times.(13) During my internship, I hope to gauge the level of politicization of the General Accounting Office. To do this, I am listening to elevator comments about expressly political reports and determine how the organization responds to highly political requests by Congress.
The second category of theory is concerned with the General Accounting Office as policy analyst and auditor. One aspect of this is the General Accounting Office's balance between auditing and evaluating work. As its name suggests, the agency is traditionally thought of (by itself and others) as Congress' "accounting agency."(14) Until the 1970's it concentrated mostly on audits despite the fact that it did have program evaluation directives from the time of its creation in 1921.(15) It was not until 1969 that the General Accounting Office completed its first full program evaluation. (16) Since that time the transition from solely auditing to evaluation has been very difficult. The House Select Committee on Congressional Operations in 1978 issued a report stating, "It is also an agency in transition, experiencing a sometimes painful and uneven evolution from its relatively narrow accounting and auditing functions to the broader, more demanding requirements of policy analysis and program evaluations." (17) By 1976, then Comptroller General Elmer B. Staats believed hat the General Accounting Office was equally divided between auditing and evaluation. (18) During my time at the agency, I hope to determine what is the true current balance and relationship between the two. To this end, I am determining the background of evaluators to determine how many are accountants/financial auditors by training or tradition. Additionally, by determining the topics of current studies could suggest if they are audit or evaluation work. Finally, I have observed this issue is hotly debated literally every day in the office. Thus I believe I will also gain a lot of information from these discussions.
Another aspect of policy analyst work is the degree to which the General Accounting Office follows established guidelines and specific tasks in completing policy analysis. There are established practices for virtually every method of evaluation and audit. For my purposes, only those applicable to the evaluation that I am primarily assigned to are realistic for me to observe. During my time with the agency, I will be assisting in a study of quality assurances provided by Peer Review Organizations for outpatient surgery in the Medicare program. This is being conducted through a self-administered questionnaire mailed to Medicare recipients who had outpatient surgery during the last quarter of 1990. This study is in the data collection stage: the surveys are being mailed and returned. According to Allen J. Putt and J. Fred Springer, there are some accepted practices of conducting a self-administered questionnaire in the data collection stage in order to assure an acceptable response rate: 1. Include a cover letter justifying the study and the importance of each response. 2. Protect the privacy of the respondents and assure them of that fact. 3. Make the questionnaire "attractive," "eye-catching," and "uncluttered." 4. "Ask the minimum number of questions need to fulfill information needs. 5. "Be courteous in wording." For example, use "please" and thank the participants for their responses. 6. Mail the survey with a first class stamp to avoid it looking like junk mail. Finally, 7. Use follow-ups to encourage non-respondents to complete the survey.(19) Putt and Springer assert that even using these techniques, responses rates rarely exceed seventy percent. (20) Another aspect of questionnaires in the data collections stage, according to Putt and Springer, is the necessity of assessing the effects of non-respondents in the sample.(21) Essentially, this is completed by equating their make-up (ie. their income level, minority, etc.) to see if it matches the respondents.(22) During my internship, I hope to observe if the General Accounting Office completes these specific steps and to observe their repose rate in this evaluation.
Another aspect of the General Accounting Office's policy analysis work is the degree of validity and accuracy of its reports. The agency's reports are highly regarded in this aspect. The New York Times states that it has "consistently turned out top-quality research." Similarly, The Times report that even "White House officials often concede the validity of G.A.O. findings."(24.) During my time at the General Accounting Office I hope to see if this reputation is deserved or if its just a underserved image. I hope to observe how meticulous, thorough, and accurate the evaluators are in gathering information and by determining what specific steps the agency takes to ensure quality.
Another category of theory that I will be testing through my internship is concerned with operations. More specifically, there are several theories about the General Accounting Agency's staffing that I would like to test. For example, The New York Times attributes much of the agency's success its staff, coming from a variety of disciplines, with a high level of "expertise."(25) I would like to determine the level "expertise" of the staff by determining how many have graduate degrees and what sort of grade point averages they carry. Additionally, I would like to see what type of disciplines they are trained in. This is of particular interest to me because of the General Accounting Office's recruiters once told me that all of the agency's employees are generalists, which would seemingly contradict the idea of technical expertise.(26) Another aspect of staffing which I would like to test is the idea that the agency has a difficult time holding staff because large portions of its evaluators are hired away by it auditees within the first few years of their service. According to several career civil servants, this opinion is widely held within the Executive Departments.(27) I would like to test this by determining the average length of service of the office's evaluators. Additionally, I have already asked the Staffing Director for information on how many of this last year's departees left for a position with an auditee.
In conclusion, during my internship at the United States General Accounting Office, I will be testing concepts about its relationship with Congress, policy analysis, and staffing.
Bethell, Thomas N. "The Best Job In Washington." Washington Monthly, April 1980: 12-16.
Cohen, Richard E. "The Watchdogs For Congress Often Bark The Same Tune." National Journal, 11 (1979): 1484-1488.
Heilemann, John. "Congress's Watch Dog: Mostly It Still Goes For The Capillaries." Washington Monthly, November 1989: 38-42.
Light, Larry. "General Accounting Office Pounces On Policy Issues." Congressional Quaterly, 37 (1979); 2647-2652.
"An Office That Has Capitol's Ear." New York Times. July 39, 1990: unknown page(reprint).
Putt Allen D., and J. Fred Springer. Policy Research: Concepts, Methods Applications. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989.
Shively, W. Phillips. Power and Choice: An Introduction to Polictial Science. NY, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1991.
Singer James S. "When the Evaluators are Evaluated, The GAO often Gets Low Marks." National Journal, 11 (1979): 1889-1892.
Staats, Elmer B. "G.A.O., Evaluations, and the Legislative Process." G.A.O. Review, Fall 1978: 24-29.
"The Use of Social Science in the Changing Role of the G.A.O." Policy Studies Journal, 7 (1976): 820-826.
Tulloss, Charles R., George Detsis, and Don Bock. Personal interview. May, 1991.
United States. General Accounting Office. Office of Recruiting. "Making a Difference in Government." District of Columbia: United States General Accounting Office, undated. "Serving The Congress." District of Columbia: United States General Accounting Office, undated.
SAMPLE PAPER #2
The ground-level, "Intro. to American Government" assumption of the role a state legislature performs in the American political system is that it should represent the people. The role of the United States Congress is also to represent the people, but presumably in a broader sense, farther removed form the "nuts and bolts" that are left to the state legislatures. The "nuts and bolts" take the form of local agencies (more specific agents than their federal cousin-agencies), which reflect more locally-oriented norms.
My view of the state legislature and of state government generally (culled from American Political System taken at a community college and high school American Government courses0, is that the state is left with responsibility for policy matters that are, in effect, "closer to home." This includes, in my mind, education, health and human services, intrastate trade and commerce (including labor relations), and a great deal of civil matters. Other state concerns include transportation and factors in the local (statewide) economy, e.g. tourist, and agriculture in Colorado.
Further, I perceive the state government, and thus the legislature, as being able to "fill in" the blanks left by the broader decisions of the federal government (concerned with issues like defense and international relations) and the judiciary concerned with only the most sweeping social and legal questions). I've always perceived this system as facilitating a more direct democracy, giving local individuals the greatest voice in the matters that affect them most: local matters. In this way, local morals and values are given some sway while the largest, unanimously agreed-upon principles, embodied in the federal government, still retain their sovereignty.
This is itself only a hypothesis. With federal funding increasingly used as leverage against cash-strapped states. I'm not sure that my "theory of local autonomy" is valid. Also it is questionable whether there exists a single, or even a few, set(s) of local values that can and should be reflected through the policy making decisions of a legislature. This is particularly true in a state s diverse as Colorado. The legislature, located in urban Denver and undoubtedly influenced by its atmosphere, may not be a way for locals in Holyoke or walsenburg to exercise power where the federal government has not.
In his book "Local and State Government," David Saffell articulates the state legislature's functions more systematically. Legislators are to represent their constituencies, including acting as liaisons and aiding in individual's dealing with state agencies, responding to personal inquiries and policy making suggestions. Legislators are further supposed to furnish their constituents with reasons for their voting choices.
According to Saffell, the legislature is further responsible for review and oversight of the governor and state administration. This is accomplished through the legislature's power to approve the state budget, convene committee hearings, and affirm executive (e.g. judicial) appointments. The "power of the purse" gives the legislature the means to check programs or proposals of the governor that it does not approve.
But, traditionally, the greatest power of the legislature--and the source of its name--is the power to make laws, and in doing so, to create the policy which will govern its constituents. Saffell sees this as including the responsibility to go beyond simply rubber-stamping the governor's program or the individual and unconnected bills of particular legislators, and rather to initiate policy proposals on the important issues--as the legislature perceives them--as well.
Robert S. Lorch's book, "Colorado's Government," goes further, giving the details of how the above outlined processes are accomplished. For instance, he discusses how committees serve both legislative and oversight factions. References committees help to narrow and adapt bills in such a way as to make them more acceptable to the entire legislature, theoretically. However, committee assignments can used to kill a bill before it may have been given adequate examination. The Joint Budget Committee particularly provides oversight by determining the fiscal needs of state institutions which in turn are received by the individual appropriations committees.
Lorch suggests that, in most state legislatures, the governor rides roughshod over the legislature in terms of budget decisions, with the legislators merely going through the motions of creating a budget while actually approving the budget choices of the executive branch. Yet Lorch sees Colorado's JBC as an exception that has not "abandoned" its budget responsibilities.
The Lorch book for me suggests several hypotheses. First, does the committee system the legislature has adopted, presumably in hopes of facilitating the representative process, truly serve the purpose of meeting our compromise and achieving good? Or is it simply a barrier to the creation of effective new policy, based as it is largely on the committee choices of the presiding officer of the house?
The same types of questions can be asked about the two houses and their respective multiple hurdles which a bill must pass before becoming law. Do these obstacles prevent capricious legislation or do they merely favor the status quo by making it difficult for innovative legislation to be passed?
Another hypothesis the Lorch book suggest concerns the power of the governor vs. the power of the legislature. In my particular placement (a democratic senator's office), I've heard it said by a staffer that the democrats in the Senate (a minority) are more conservative than the democrats in the House, who are in turn more conservative than Governor Romer, who is considered quite liberal in the office. Apparently there has been some past friction between the three, but particularly between the General Assemble and the governor. I've also heard Senator Pastore (who I am working with) express his distaste with the media's focus on the governor, to the exclusion of the legislature. My own personal feeling during the governor's State of the State address was that what he was saying was largely symbolic and that his agenda would have little bearing on the workings and issues focused on in the General Assembly.
If Lorch is correct in saying that the Colorado Legislature is exceptional in the degree of control it exerts on policy, particularly in the area of funding, my opinion that the assembly and the governor have a great deal of separate power would correlate well. It would further coordinate with the traditional view of executive and legislative "checks and balances," offering evidence that the system is working well at the state level. My hypotheses is that it does. yet, it may be that partisan politics, not check and balances, explain the differences in opinion and apparent power in Colorado's case.
In terms of the Senate specifically, the view is that its members, with longer terms, are more insulated form the constant tumult of public opinion and can better represent the interests of the people and not jut their immediate opinions (this is taken form Carla Shuh's Introduction to Political Theory course here at CU). I would like to find out if the Senate Truly press, than the House of Representatives, which is subject to more frequent election pressure.
Finally, I would like to determine if the views of the Senate as merely a springboard for political careers or an elite "social club" for its members (views mention by both Saffell and Lorch and echoed in everyday conversation), hold any truth. I've already seen a great deal of "clubby" behavior and an endless (and always free) social calendar at the Capitol. I want to see if their are many members who stay on for any length of time, and if the fraternal behavior is borne out over the session in voting. My hypothesis concerning the Senate as a career-builder is that it is true to an extent; the Senate group pictures form years past are full of figures who have advanced to the federal government or to governor (e.g. United States Senator Bill Armstrong, etc.). My hypothesis concerning the club environments is that it will not dampen debate and dissent during the session.
ANDERSON, LESLIE: COMPARATIVE POLITICS; DEVELOPING NATIONS; LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS; PEASANT STUDIES BEER, FRANK: PEACE AND WAR; WORLD ORDER; WORLD FUTURES; INTERNATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY; POST-MODERN THEORY BRUMBAUGH, SUSAN: QUANTITATIVE METHODS; LARGE-SCALE ORGANIZATIONS AND URBAN SOCIOLOGY BRUNNER, RONALD: THEORY AND PRACTICE OF POLICY SCIENCES' INFORMATION SYSTEMS; POLITICAL SYMBOLS CHAMBERS, SIMONE: CONTEMPORARY CONTINENTAL & AMERICAN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY; CRITICAL THEORY CHAN, STEVE: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; FOREIGN POLICY; DECISION MAKING; POLITICAL ECONOMY; CHINA
CIOFFI-REVILLA INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; WAR AND PEACE CLAUDIO: RESEARCH; MATHEMATICAL MODELING AND METHODOLOGY
CLARKE, SUSAN: PUBLIC FORMATION; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POLICY; URBAN POLITICAL ECONOMY. COSTAIN, ANNE: AMERICAN POLITICS; INTEREST GROUPS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS; GENDER POLITICS; POLITICAL CHANGE DODD, LAWRENCE: AMERICAN POLITICS; LEGISLATIVE POLITICS; COMPARATIVE POLITICS; THEORY AND EPISTEMOLOGY ECKART, DENNIS: PUBLIC POLICY ANALYSIS; URBAN POLITICS; PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION; POLITICAL ETHICS FITCH, SAM: LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS, MILITARY AND POLITICS; PUBLIC POLICY ANALYSIS GREENBERG, ED: AMERICAN POLITICS, POLITICAL ECONOMY; ECONOMIC AND INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY HERO, RODNEY: URBAN/ETHIC POLITICS; STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT; FEDERALISM JILLSON, CALVIN: AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT; DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS KOPSTEIN, JEFF: COMPARATIVE POLITICS, EASTERN EUROPE AND SOVIET UNION POLITICAL ANTHROPOLOGY; POLITICAL ECONOMY LESTER, CHARLES: PUBLIC LAW AND ADMINISTRATION; LAW AND MODERN SOCIAL THEORY; JURISPRUDENCE AND SOCIAL POLICY LICHBACH, MARK: COMPARATIVE POLITICS; SOCIAL CHOICE THEORY MAPEL, DAVID: CONTEMPORARY ANGLO-AMERICAN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY; THEORIES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE MARABLE, MANNING: BLACK POLITICS; POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY; AFRICAN AND CARIBBEAN POLITICS MEWES, HORST: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY; ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENTS AND POLITICS SAFRAN, WILLIAMS: COMPARATIVE POLITICS; WESTERN EUROPE; POLITICAL PARTIES; INTEREST GROUPS; ETHNIC POLITICS SCARRIT, JAMES: COMPARATIVE POLITICS; SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA; POLITICAL CHANGE; ETHNICITY; HUMAN RIGHTS SKURINIK, W.A.E: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; AFRICA; US FOREIGN POLICY; PRESS FREEDOM SLOAN, DANIEL: NATIONAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GOV'T; NATIONAL SECURITY BUDGETING; PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND POLICY STEINMO, SVEN: COMPARATIVE POLITICS; WESTERN EUROPE; PUBLIC POLICY; POLITICAL ECONOMY STONE, WALTER: AMERICAN POLITICS; LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATION; POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS/POL. RES. QTLY. STRINE, MICHAEL: PUBLIC LAW; AMERICAN POLITICS; PUBLIC POLICY AND ORGANIZATION THEORY TANNENWALD, NINA: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS; LAW AND ORGANIZATION; INTERNATIONAL SECURITY; NUCLEAR HISTORY, POLITICAL THEORY; INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL THEORY; PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE; POLITICAL ECONOMY WARD, MICHAEL: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; EMPIRICAL THEORY AND METHODOLOGY
CODDING, GEORGE: INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS; WESTERN EUROPE; TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY GOODNOW, HENRY: THEORY AND PRACTICE OF PUBLIC PROFESSOR ADMINISTRATION; S. ASIA; ETHIOPIA; SMALL CITIES
KERYSTUFEK, ZDENEK: HISTORY OF LEGAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY;
COMPARATIVE LEGAL SYSTEMS
McBRIDE, CONRAD: AMERICAN GOVERNMENT; US PRESIDENCY
PFAFF, RICHARD: POLITICAL CHANGE INT EH MUSLIM MIDDLE EAST; INTERNATIONAL POLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST ROZEK, EDWARD: COMPARATIVE POLITICS; INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; SOVIET UNION; EASTERN EUROPE WINTER, WILLIAM: NORTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN URBAN POLITICS; AMERICAN FEDERALISM; PLANNING AND FINANCE
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 09:31:32 -0700 (MST)