Ex Post Review and Expert Policymaking: When Does Oversight Reduce Accountability?

43 Pages Posted: 19 May 2016 Last revised: 9 Feb 2017

Date Written: January 24, 2017


Ex post review is a common feature of policymaking institutions. We consider a simple environment in which an expert agent makes a policy recommendation, which can then be accepted or rejected by a principal whose policy goals differ from those of the agent. The theory offers testable predictions about policy recommendations and the principal’s acceptance or rejection of these recommendations. The theory suggests that behavior and institutional design incentives are sensitive to both actors’ preference alignment and the importance of and uncertainty inherent to the policy area in multiple ways, some expected and some less obvious. We characterize the types of situations in which ex post review creates incentives for the agent to make pathological policy choices. In these situations, ex post review can reduce the accountability of the agent to the wishes of the principal and ultimately create an incentive for the principal to forego review entirely.

Keywords: Accountability; Oversight; Policymaking; Formal Theory; Signaling

JEL Classification: C72; D82; H77

Suggested Citation

Patty, John W. and Turner, Ian R., Ex Post Review and Expert Policymaking: When Does Oversight Reduce Accountability? (January 24, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2781750 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2781750

John W. Patty

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Ian R. Turner (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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