Bureaucratic Autonomy and the Policymaking Capacity of United States Agencies, 1998–2021

50 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2021 Last revised: 12 Sep 2022

See all articles by Nicholas Bednar

Nicholas Bednar

Vanderbilt University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 16, 2021

Abstract

Despite a renewed interest in the health of the U.S. administrative state, the absence of meaningful time-series measures impedes the ability to test emerging theories studying the relationship between bureaucratic autonomy and capacity. Using over 50 million personnel files, I estimate 5,590 yearly policymaking-capacity scores for 266 unique agencies from 1998 to 2021. These measures provide an invaluable tool as either an independent or dependent variable in studies of administrative policymaking. To exhibit the value of these measures, I test longstanding theories about the relationship between bureaucratic autonomy and capacity. This analysis makes two findings. First, agencies with higher levels of structural independence have higher levels of capacity. Second, increased politicization within an agency decreases its bureaucratic capacity.

Keywords: Bureaucratic Politics, Civil Service, Politicization, Independent Agencies, Bureaucratic Capacity

Suggested Citation

Bednar, Nicholas, Bureaucratic Autonomy and the Policymaking Capacity of United States Agencies, 1998–2021 (December 16, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3987431 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3987431

Nicholas Bednar (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University, Department of Political Science ( email )

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

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