"The most well-known problem in American public administration stems from the appointment of politically well-connected incompetents to positions of administrative authority. Yet the negative effects of the spoils system are felt all the way down the organizational hierarchy" 1/2
"...the most senior positions are monopolized by individuals who come from outside... As a result, it is much more difficult to recruit talented and ambitious young people to the civil service, because there is no career path from entry-level positions to senior management." 2/2
-- From Joseph Heath, The Machinery of Government.

Westminster systems exhibit greater administrative competence than the US presidential system thanks to its permanent civil service (eg. Permanent secretaries in the UK & Deputy ministers in Canada).

An incoming president makes over 4,000 appointments directly, of which at least 1,000 require Senate approval. In total, common estimates put number of personnel who change during a presidential transition at around 50,000.

A few thoughts...
The lack of a permanent, upper-level civil service in US can be compensated for through independent agencies like the Fed. But in ordinary agencies, new administrations must not only find issue area experts, but appointees with the acumen to navigate the federal bureaucracy.
The big think tanks in DC function, in some measure, as holding pens for would-be senior civil servants and political appointees. They basically get to practice the skills of drafting and communicating policy, managing stakeholders, studying process, etc., until it's their turn.
K Street and the private sector also fill that role to some extent. Thus where the Westminster system has permanent civil servants, the U.S. is forced to rely on a quasi-permanent class of would-be civil servants forced to daylight as wonks, lobbyists, politicos, and executives.
This obviously exposes US public administration to far more rent-seeking, incompetence, and discontinuity between administrations than is necessary much less desirable. Appointees and transition staff aren't beholden to the normal professional ethics of career public servants.
In Westminster systems, the permanent civil service is duty bound to politically neutrality: civil servants are not to engage in partisan opposition to the government, nor in partisan activities in support of the ruling party; ie. neither disloyalty nor *excessive* loyalty.
In Canada, federal civil servants used to be prohibited from political party activism until our Supreme Court ruled that this violated freedom of expression outside of work hours. Yet the ethos remains strong. Deviating from impartiality is a sure fire way to never get promoted.
A strict ethos of political neutrality is a side-effect of having a permanent civil service. It's both codified and a strong norm / convention given the need for trust and continuity across governments of different political parties. Imagine the Hatch Act but on steroids.
The Hatch Act is such a joke in the US context because the senior civil servant and the political appointee are often one and the same person. Likewise, the holding tanks for would-be admin officials are inevitably tinged by ideological bias, whether its CAP or Heritage or AEI.
As a result, the US system has the worst of both worlds. Not only does it forgo the acumen of a permanent civil service to enable new administrations to efficiently execute a policy agenda, it also undermines the ethos of impartiality required for enduring public legitimacy.
This leads to all sorts of confusion in the public discourse. Trump's complaints about the Deep State, for example, seem to imply that a career civil service is a bad thing from the POV of executing his policy agenda. But in a sense this is upside down and backwards.
Trump's agenda was stymied because he *lacked* a permanent, high ranking civil service that knew how to effectively navigate the bureaucracy. Instead, he was forced to rely on his appointees, most of whom are incompetent, or randos from industry or some conservative think tank.
Meanwhile, to the extent that career staff under Trump have behaved in a less-than-impartial fashion, it's because the US *lacks* a true permanent civil service through which a strict ethos of neutrality can be cultivated, both as a norm and via promotions to senior positions.

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More from @hamandcheese

6 Sep
"Cancel culture" is less due to a set of bad ideas gaining influence than a collective action failure created by modern social media. That's why you can see it everywhere yet it's hard to identify anyone who earnestly supports it, beyond the occasional post-hoc rationalization.
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New from me:

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Hostility to anything that smacks of “redistribution.”
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This story is nuts.

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They managed to convert 90% of the IRS's Individual Master File code to Java.

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Before Treasury approved his GS-15, Wang had a new job.
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Without Wang, that didn't happen.

For his work, Wang's was awarded this patent in Oct 2018: patentswarm.com/patents/US1044…
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