Patronage


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Patronage

The practice or custom observed by a political official of filling government positions with qualified employees of his or her own choosing.

When the candidate of a political party wins an election, the newly elected official has the right to appoint a certain numbers of persons to jobs in the government. This is the essence of the patronage system, also known as the spoils system ("To the victor go the spoils"): appointing persons to government positions on the basis of political support and work rather than on merit, as measured by objective criteria. Though the patronage system exists at all levels of U.S. government, the number of positions that are available through patronage has decreased dramatically since the 1880s.

The patronage system thrived in the U.S. federal government until 1883. In 1820 Congress limited federal administrators to four-year terms, leading to constant turnover. By the 1860s and the Civil War, patronage had led to widespread inefficiency and political corruption. Where patronage had once been confined to the cabinet, department heads, and foreign ambassadorships, by the 1860s low-level government positions were subject to patronage. The loss of a presidential election by a political party signaled wholesale turnover in the federal government. When President Benjamin Harrison took office in 1889, 31,000 federal postmaster positions changed hands.

The assassination of President james garfield in 1881 by a disgruntled office seeker who did not receive a political appointment spurred Congress to pass the Civil Service Act, or Pendleton Act of 1883 (5 U.S.C.A. § 1101 et seq.). The act, which at the time only applied to 10 percent of the federal workforce, created a Civil Service Commission and advocated a merit system for the selection of government employees. By 1980, 90 percent of federal positions had become part of the civil service system. In addition, the passage in 1939 of the Hatch Act (53 Stat. 1147) curtailed or restricted most partisan political activities of federal employees.

State and local governments have employed large patronage systems. Big-city political machines in places such as New York, Boston, and Chicago thrived in the late nineteenth century. A patronage system not only rewards political supporters for past support, it also encourages future support, because persons who have a patronage job try to retain it by campaigning for the party at the next election.

Large-scale patronage systems declined steadily during the twentieth century. During the Progressive Era (1900–1920), "good government" reformers overthrew political machines and installed civil service systems. Chicago, under Mayor Richard J. Daley, remained the last bastion of patronage, existing in its purest form until the late 1970s.

Patronage has its defenders. It is a way to maintain a strong political organization by offering campaign workers rewards. More importantly, patronage puts people into government who agree with the political agenda of the victor. Cooperation, loyalty, and trust flow from this arrangement. Finally, patronage guarantees some turnover, bringing new people and new ideas into the system.

Opponents have long agreed that patronage is acceptable at the highest levels of government. Presidents, governors, and mayors are entitled to select their cabinet and department heads. However, history indicates that patronage systems extending far down the organizational chain are susceptible to inefficiency and corruption.

Congress took another look at patronage issues in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (92 Stat. 1121–1131, 5 U.S.C.A. 1201–1209). Concerned that federal bureaucrats were too independent and unresponsive to elected officials, the act replaced the Civil Service Commission with the Office of Personnel Management, under closer control of the president. The act also created the Senior Executive Service, which gives the president greater discretion in reassigning top officials to departments and agencies.

Cross-references

Bureaucracy; Civil Service; Tammany Hall.

PATRONAGE. The right of appointing to office; as the patronage of the president of the United States, if abused, may endanger the liberties of the people.
     2. In the ecclesiastical law, it signifies the right of presentation to a church or ecclesiastical benefice. 2 Bl. Com. 21.

References in periodicals archive ?
The release of the patronage data follows a concerted campaign from the McGowan Government, through the Public Transport Authority and METRONET, to draw commuters onto buses and trains.
This was the great institutional flaw of the patronage system, why it could not bring coherence to the chaos of American politics.
"Patronage is the differentiator between the cooperative business model and other agribusiness models," said Dan Schurr, chair of the CHS Board of Directors.
"Mr president sir if you do that you would potentially create more problems at the divisional level and worsen the patronage," he said.
Last month, it was reported that Markle won't have any public appearances until it is time for her to announce her patronages. According to (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/over-tea-at-the-palace-the-queen-passes-on-a-royal-patronage-vm6tj9050) The Sunday Times , Markle's first few royal patronages will be announced this month.
General Ayub Khan's local democracies system that also encouraged local level patronage networks was dismantled within months.
Kwajaffa said that based on the Order, many textile manufacturers stocked up their inventory in expectation of a sales boom but were yet to get patronage from the various ministries.
The celebrations continue in Shinas till November 6 graduating 633 students under the under the patronage of Sheikh Hamad bin Hilal Al Ma'amari, undersecretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture for Cultural Affairs.
A iluminacao, alem de facilitar a compra, consegue mudar a percepcao da loja e as atitudes do shopper, como a intencao de recomendar para amigos e de retornar, o patronage (Bellizzi, Crowley, & Hasty, 1983; Bellizzi & Hite, 1992).
ROME, September 7, 2016 (WAFA) - European trade s, water, human rights and environmental groups have called on the European Commission (EC) to withdraw patronage from Watec, the Israeli water conference planned to be held for the first time in Europe in September, a press release said on Wednesday.
Record patronage of $1.2 million, half of which will be in cash, is being paid to the 980 producer-members of NorthStar Cooperative.
Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Joyce Hwang (a Registered Architect in New York State and an Assistant Professor of Architecture at University at Buffalo, SUNY) and Martha Bohm (Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design), "Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice" is comprised of essays, projects, and interviews that examine emerging forms of sponsorship, new forms of connectivity, technological or social, that produce innovative modes of collaboration, and strategies for cultivating relationships that allow us to rethink typical hierarchies between those in power and those in service.