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Influencing the Bureaucracy: The Irony of Congressional Oversight

59 Pages Posted: 4 May 2012  

Joshua David Clinton

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

David E. Lewis

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science; Vanderbilt University - Law School

Jennifer Lee Selin

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 3, 2012

Abstract

Does the President or Congress have more influence over policy making by the bureaucracy? Despite a wealth of theoretical guidance, progress on this important question has proven elusive due to competing theoretical predictions and severe difficulties in measuring agency influence and oversight. We use a survey of 2,400 federal executives to assess political influence, congressional oversight and the policy preferences of agencies, committees, and the president on a comparable scale. Analyzing variation in political influence across and within agencies reveals that Congress is less influential relative to the White House when more committees are involved. While increasing the number of involved committees may maximize the electoral benefits for members, it may also undercut the ability of Congress as an institution to collectively respond to the actions of the presidency or the bureaucracy.

Keywords: Congress, Bureaucracy, Oversight

Suggested Citation

Clinton, Joshua David and Lewis, David E. and Selin, Jennifer Lee, Influencing the Bureaucracy: The Irony of Congressional Oversight (May 3, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2050734 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2050734

Joshua David Clinton (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

David E. Lewis

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States
615-322-6222 (Phone)

Vanderbilt University - Law School

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

Jennifer Lee Selin

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

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