The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Public Policy Job Talk- Kenneth Lowande

Politicization and Responsiveness in Executive Agencies

Wed, April 12, 2017 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Scholarship on bureaucratic responsiveness to Congress typically focuses on delegation and formal oversight hearings. Overlooked are daily requests to executive agencies made by legislators that propose policies, communicate concerns, and request information or services. Analyzing over 24,000 of these requests made to 12 executive agencies between 2007-2015, I find agencies systematically prioritize the policy-related requests of majority party legislators—but that this effect can be counter-acted when presidents politicize agencies through appointments. An increase in politicization produces a favorable agency bias toward presidential co-partisans. This same politicization, however, has a net negative impact on agency responsiveness—agencies are less responsive to members of Congress, but even less responsive to legislators who are not presidential co-partisans. Critically, this negative impact on performance extends beyond policy-related requests to cases of constituency service. The results suggest that presidential appointees play an important, daily mediating role between Congress and the bureaucracy.

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