Bras. Political Sci. Rev.. 23/Nov/2016;10(3):e0008.
High-level Federal Bureaucracy and Policy Formulation: the Case of the Bolsa Família Program
This article is a contribution to the study of the decision-making behind social policies. The literature usually stresses the role of elected politicians and the parliament in framing policies and underestimates governmental stakeholders, who do not hold elected offices, and bureaucrats. This article aims to highlight the active role of high-level federal bureaucrats in the design of policies. The analysis reclaims the classical categories and concepts developed by Lindblom (1980) and Crozier (1964), which points to the hybrid behaviour of bureaucrats and politically-appointed actors. Our aim is to show that decision-making is the result of the interactions between elected politicians and hybrid high-level federal bureaucracy, who organize themselves in groups around different technical-political projects. The analysis is developed through a case study of a policy that resulted in the merger of the existing federal conditional cash transfer programs, and generated one of the most globally-recognized social policies of Brazil, the Bolsa Família Program, in 2003.