WATERGATE: Implications for Responsible Government by Frederick C. & Others Mosher

WATERGATE: Implications for Responsible Government

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This panel report, commissioned by the Senate Watergate Committee and sponsored by the National Academy of Public Administration, proves once more that administrators are not prophets. However, it does provide a coherent program of prophylaxis against the dangers that have already been identified in the political arena. The general reader, especially if he is familiar with the gist of Reedy's Presidency in Flux or Schlesinger's Imperial Presidency, can pretty well anticipate the thrust of the panel's analysis: the Nixon administration merely accelerated the trend towards turning presidential assistants into ""assistant presidents."" In this context, the authors do not overlook the ironic damage to Nixon wrought by his own ""monocratic,"" or corporate, system which made it ""increasingly difficult to pin responsibility for decisions or actions on anyone short of the top man."" The report isolates many separate areas for legislation that would specifically limit the size and authority of the White House staff, strengthen the position of agency heads vis-a-vis the President's advisors, revitalize the civil service and sharpen congressional machinery for executive oversight. Particularly stringent criticism is aimed at the Justice Department, and the proposed remedies include depoliticizing the office of Attorney General, removing the Justice Department from the process of selecting federal judges, and appointing a permanent Special Prosecutor. Mild as these recommendations seem, it remains to be seen whether Congress can muster the will and strength to effect them; for though this blueprint for a return to the ""institutional"" presidency is outlined in reformist, conservative terms, the changes it advocates would involve a sweeping redistribution of power. For public servants and informed monitors of the same.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1974
Publisher: Basic Books