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Title: Agency Design, Human Capital, and Political Control in U.S. Federal Agencies
Authors: Bolton, Alexander
Advisors: Cameron, Charles M
McCarty, Nolan M
Contributors: Politics Department
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The question of who controls what the bureaucracy does and how well it does it is central to the study of American politics. Political actors rely on administrative action for the successful implementation of their policy priorities. Because of this, presidents and Congress have created institutions designed to bring agency policies in line with their preferences. I consider two types of control. First, I examine how agency leadership structures impact agency responsiveness. Then, I examine how presidents allocate human capital across agencies and the effects of those decisions. In Chapter 2, I examine why, how, and when policies implemented by ideologically diverse commissions differ from those of other agencies. I develop a model of commission policymaking that yields two hypotheses: consensus is more likely when the chair and principals are ideologically distant and commissions evince greater responsiveness to principals' preferences than other agencies. I test the hypotheses using two new datasets: a record of all FCC votes on proposed rulemakings from 1965-2013 and a dataset of limitation riders directed at agency regulations. I find strong support for the hypotheses generated by the theory. Chapter 3 examines the ability of the president to shape the federal workforce. I develop a theory of personnel politics in which the president allocates human resources to ideologically-aligned agencies. I also hypothesize that agencies with higher levels of union penetration receive higher personnel allocations, particularly during Democratic presidencies. Using an original dataset of budgeted personnel levels from fiscal years 1983-2012, I find support for these hypotheses. I also demonstrate the effects of allocations on agency employment structures and employee opinion. Finally, in Chapter 4, I examine how presidents control agency capacity through the distribution of career Senior Executive Service employees. I argue that presidents seek to directly increase capacity through this mechanism. First, I demonstrate that career SES managers are capacity-enhancing and are related to improved performance. Then, I develop a theory of allocation that predicts presidents will differentiate among agencies ideologically with these appointments. I find strong support for these hypotheses. Chapter 5 discusses the broader implications of this work and directions for future research.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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