Designing Executive Agencies for Congressional Influence
31 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2016 Last revised: 14 Jan 2021
Date Written: 2017
Those seeking to restore Congress’s place as a co-equal branch should consider the architecture of the administrative state. Despite increased scholarly attention concerning both the design of executive agencies and Congress’s role in governance, the impact of institutional features on executive agencies’ susceptibility to congressional attention is largely unknown. Leveraging original data on committee oversight hearings, this Article explores the connections between various agency design features and congressional oversight activity. The Article finds that (1) agencies with leaders that are subject to Senate confirmation receive greater attention from congressional overseers; (2) no relationship is apparent between an agency’s creation by statute or executive order and the later salience of that agency to congressional overseers; and (3) independent agencies appear more independent of congressional as well as presidential control, contrary to a conventional wisdom that they tend to reflect Congress’s preferences. Through greater attention to agency design, Congress can create future executive agencies and retrofit existing agencies to increase its influence in policymaking.
Keywords: Agency Design, Independent Agencies, Administrative Law, Committee Jurisdiction, Oversight, Hearings, Administrative Agencies, The Administrative State
JEL Classification: H11, D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation