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Title: Essays on Bureaucratic Politics: Political Targeting, Deterrence Effects and the Implementation of Regulatory Statutes
Authors: Acs, Alex
Advisors: Cameron, Charles M
Londregan, John B
Contributors: Politics Department
Subjects: Political Science
Public administration
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: A defining feature of modern democracies is that lawmaking, once the exclusive domain of the legislature, is overwhelmingly executed by administrative agencies. While these agencies are authorized to make law by the legislature, and expected to be managed and staffed by the executive, their lines of accountability are typically murkier. In this dissertation, I study U.S. federal agencies that are involved in rulemaking---the process by which these administrative units write laws---to glean insights about the nature of political control over policymaking in modern democracies. Have innovations in presidential oversight, such as centralized review, improved the president's ability to achieve policy goals through administrative action? How have agencies changed their behavior in response to creeping presidential scrutiny? Has political oversight polluted the relationship between agencies and the statutes awaiting implementation? In Political Targeting, I first establish that agencies produce a volume of regulatory activity so large that political overseers can only review a select subset. These resource constraints raise questions about which agencies and which regulatory proposals are targeted for political review. I show that empirical patterns of presidential targeting across different agencies and administrations reflect a politically motivated process. In Deterrence Effects, I turn to the consequences of this political scrutiny on agency behavior. Given that agencies are targeted at different intensities, important questions emerge about the extent to which this induces variations in compliance with presidential goals. I find a positive relationship between targeting and compliance, which I interpret as evidence that presidential targeting generates vast incentive effects amongst the agencies. In Which Statute to Implement, I expand on the consequences that political oversight, more generally, has on agency decision making. Since the legislature rarely mandates how agencies should prioritize statutes, agencies can exercise considerable discretion by timing their implementation. I track the implementation of statutes across five presidential administrations and 12 agencies and show that, among other findings, regulators tend to favor statutes that were disproportionately supported by co-partisans of the current political environment, potentially at the expense of previous coalitions that enacted overlooked statutes.
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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