Why Who Does What Matters: Governmental Design and Agency Performance

71 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2014 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019

See all articles by David A. Hyman

David A. Hyman

Georgetown University Law Center

William E. Kovacic

George Washington University - Law School; King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

Date Written: January 6, 2014


How should the federal government be organized – and who (i.e., which departments, agencies, bureaus, and commissions) should do what? The issue is not new: President James Madison addressed governmental organization in his 1812 State of the Union Address, and in the last century, it is the rare President that does not propose to reorganize some part of the federal government. Indeed, on numerous occasions during the past century, virtually every part of the federal government has been repeatedly reorganized and reconfigured. In previous work, we examined the dynamics that influence the assignment of regulatory duties to an agency, how those dynamics (and the allocation of responsibilities) can change over time, and how the specific combination of regulatory functions and purposes affect agency decision-making. In this article, we focus on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). Using the framework we developed in our previous work, we examine the costs and benefits of the design choices made by the architects of the CFPB, and make some (appropriately hedged) predictions about the future prospects of this latest addition to the federal bureaucracy. We also briefly consider the implications of our analysis for the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”).

Keywords: governmental design, agency, CFPB, PPACA, implementation

JEL Classification: D73, K23, G18, G28, I18

Suggested Citation

Hyman, David A. and Kovacic, William E., Why Who Does What Matters: Governmental Design and Agency Performance (January 6, 2014). Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS14-11, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2014-2, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2319466 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2319466

David A. Hyman (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

William E. Kovacic

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202.994.8123 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.gwu.edu/faculty/profile.aspx?id=1731

King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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