Students of bureaucracy applying the logic of rational choice institutionalism (RCI) have offered important and thought-provoking explanations of how and why public agencies are designed and evolve over time in the United States (e.g., Bender & Moe, 1985; Brehm & Gates, 1997; Epstein & O'Halloran, 1999; Gilligan, Marshall, & Weingast, 1989; Huber & McCarty, 2004; Huber & Shipan, 2002; Lewis 2003; McCubbins & Page, 1987; Moe, 1989; Rothenberg, 1994; Weingast & Moran, 1983; Zegart, 1999). The insights and contributions of this scholarship notwithstanding, however, celebrating the explanatory power of RCI as a general theory of agency design (i.e., factors affecting agency origin and design) or evolution (i.e., forces affecting changes in agency design over time) is premature for several reasons.
First, the universe of U.S. agencies studied is quite narrow. With few exceptions, RCI scholarship on bureaucracies focuses on domestic agencies. Second, even when RCI scholarship in the U.S. context has been expanded to include the design and evolution of national security agencies, findings call into question the general application of RCI propositions beyond domestic agencies. Zegart's (1999) pathbreaking application of RCI theory to national security agencies, for example, finds that the key actors in agency design and evolution of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Joint Chiefs, and the National Security Council are presidents and bureaucrats, not the interest groups and congressmembers frequently identified as key actors in the domestic policy domain.
A third and related issue questioning the explanatory power of RCI is the reluctance of theorists to afford any meaningful strategic role for bureaucrats, a finding disputed not only by Zegart's (1999) research, but also by recent and important research on domestic agencies generally (Krause, 1999; Krause & Meier, 2005). In particular, these studies find that bureaucrats act strategically to influence agency design and evolution; they are not passive bystanders who are merely "acted upon" as most conventional principal-agent models assume. As such, the relationship between elected principals and their bureaucratic agents should be seen as a "two-way" street rather than a "one-way" street favoring principals over bureaucratic agents (Krause; also see Krause & Meier).
Fourth, questions about the general explanatory power of RCI also arise because it typically takes a top-down, Washington-centric focus on U.S. domestic or national security agencies alone. As such, and unlike the use of RCI by comparative politics scholars (see, for example, Crisp & Levine, 1998), it is possible that RCI perspectives on agency design or evolution may marginalize the substantial and growing influence of subnational actors in domestic and national security domains (Agranoff & McGuire, 2003). Again, no logical reason exists to expect that subnational actors in the U.S. also will not try to ensure their access, influence, and power in agency structures, processes, and procedures.
Finally, even were one to accept these recent modifications to RCI theories of agency design or evolution in both domestic and national security agencies, one would have to assume that agencies are either "pure" domestic or "pure" nondomestic agencies. Yet this ignores bureaucratic realities in the contemporary administrative state. A significant and growing subpopulation of agencies work in policy domains where domestic and nondomestic public policies interact (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon, and the CIA). Moreover, the existence and import of "intermestic" policies has long been recognized (Shull, 1991), with this overlap becoming more prevalent in the post-9/11 era (Baker, 2005). Because affected agencies are engaged in these kinds of "hybrid" policy domains, both agency design and evolution may be equally hybrid; both domestic and nondomestic actors will be interested in shaping agency structures, processes, and procedures to their advantage.
This study seeks to advance theory building on agency evolution in empirically grounded ways by focusing on the explanatory power of an important theoretical perspective (RCI), in an understudied hybrid policy domain where domestic (environmental protection) and nondomestic (national security) policies intersect, and in an organizational type (the U.S. military) that has drawn scant attention from students of bureaucracy in political science, public administration, or public management. More precisely, the analytical focus of the study is the still-ongoing effort to get the U.S. military to integrate environmental and military readiness values into its day-to-day operations. Central to this organizational change effort has been the alteration of the structures, processes, and procedures that for a half-century were designed by the enacting coalition in Congress to buffer the services from contextual goals (Wilson, 1989), like environmental and natural resources (ENR) protection, that the military saw threatening its ability to complete the services' primary warfighting mission.
To these ends, the study assesses the explanatory power of RCI in three major initiatives to advance or protect past progress in "greening" the military in the post-Cold War era. These initiatives include: (i) holding the military accountable for natural resource management (NRM) planning during the Clinton years; (ii) moving away from the military's preferred incineration strategy when demilitarizing chemical weapons (CW) during the Clinton and Bush administrations; and (iii) preventing the military from obtaining broad exemptions from ENR laws after the War on Terror began during the Bush administration. Analysis of these cases reveals that the explanatory power of key elements of RCI in pure domestic or nondomestic policy domains is less robust in explaining agency evolution in agencies involved in hybrid policy domains.
In each case, the study treats the military services as the career bureaucracy. As Barzelay and Campbell (2004) demonstrate in their work, the Pentagon is "an organization dominated by career officials" (p. 129). Moreover, this was especially true during the Clinton years. Former Pentagon officials, press observers, academics, and interviewees note that the Clinton administration's rough beginnings with the services over Somalia, Haiti, and gays in the military led the White House to craft a modus vivendi with the military: don't push us too far and we won't push you too far (Priest, 2003). As such, Pentagon positions were, minimally, informed by those held by military leaders in the services and, maximally, driven by them.
The data informing the analysis are culled from extensive archival research of documents afforded by the agencies and interest groups involved, as well as a computerized and systematic review of articles appearing between 1993 and 2005 in the leading industry newsletter on military affairs and the environment, Defense Environment Alert (DEA). Published biweekly by Inside Washington Publishers as a newsletter for individual, group, and institutional subscribers in government, business, industry, and academia, the DEA's reputation is unparalleled for its neutrality, accuracy, and commentary. These data are supplemented by off-the-record background interviews conducted between 1993 and the present with over one hundred individuals either working in, or authorities on, the greening of the U.S. military.
The study begins by elaborating in greater depth the logic, tenets, and potential constraints on RCI explanatory power in domestic, nondomestic, and hybrid policy domains. From that discussion, the article derives and tests propositions related to the explanatory power of RCI in the NRM planning, CW demilitarization, and regulatory relief cases. The article concludes by discussing the implications of the findings for the explanatory and predictive power of RCI when it comes to agency design and evolution in hybrid policy domains.
RCI offers parsimonious and provocative deductive theories of politics generally, and of agency design and evolution in particular. As a result, it offers students of the bureaucracy testable "ideas about which actors most influence agency design and development, how this influence works, and what this means for public administration" (Zegart, 1999, p. 19). As Wood and Bohte (2004) state, the central premises of RCI regarding agency design are that enacting coalitions use structures, procedures, and processes to increase the political and administrative transaction costs for policy opponents seeking to change an agency's direction in the future (Wood & Bohte).
These past "democratic coalitions" are uncertain about what the future may bring, and fear that "coalitional drift," "bureaucratic drift," or unsympathetic presidents will try to change their original intent (Wood & Waterman, 1993). Consequently, they try to impose administrative structures, processes, and procedures when creating agencies that they hope will make significant changes in organizational behavior quite difficult (Wood & Bohte, 2004). To do this, proponents of creating a given agency have a variety of tools at hand. They can set the agency on autopilot (i.e., by granting little discretion to agencies and by reducing their own monitoring costs); increase transactions costs for those seeking to intervene judicially (e.g., by limiting standing to sue and when suits can be brought); and stack the deck (e.g., by creating advisory councils to ensure that citizen groups in the enacting coalition have access to agency decision making).
But as Moe (2005) argues, "the fact is that the enacting coalition consists of only one faction of legislators and interest groups. Other factions are losers and may well be worse off because of the coalition's choices (p. 220)." Importantly, these losing factions must be contended with by the enacting coalition because of the need to bargain and compromise throughout the legislative process. Indeed, before any enacting coalition "wins," it is likely to have to make agency design compromises and concessions that allow opponents room to enhance their future power, access, and influence in program operations and decision making. Institutionalized in these designs as a consequence is a "constantly smoldering battle over rules and their interpretation" during agency evolution (and policymaking), because rules "determine the institutional power of the various actors" involved (Knight, 1992).
Combined, these design efforts place agencies on a path that militates against dramatic change. Moreover, as part of that evolutionary path, "new vested interests" are created that become "yet another built-in force that protects the institutional system from large-scale organizational, policy, or program change" (e.g., expanded clienteles) (Moe, 2005, p. 24). Importantly, however, history--or what is termed path dependency--is not destiny when it comes to the forces affecting agency evolution and "rule contesting behavior" (Knight, 1992). Rather, as Knight puts it, institutions are best explained "as a by-product of conflicts over distributional gains" (p. 19) or, better yet, as the byproduct of power asymmetries (Levi, 1990).
Thus, the politics of agency design do set agencies on paths that constrain future options, but those change options are multiple within that broader constraint. Consequently, many RCI scholars studying both domestic and nondomestic agencies portray agency evolution as the product of consistency or changes in the interest group, congressional, and electoral audience paying attention to the fight over structures. Changing contexts such as these are produced by dramatic "shocks" to existing systems (e.g., stock-market crashes), which then set off "mini-shocks" cascading throughout the system (i.e., issues and choices that must be made as a result of major shocks). They also can be a product of more mundane, subtle, and secular events. Recent advances in the study of agenda setting and alternative specification (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993) suggest how this can happen, as policies morph into other types over time (e.g., from distributive into redistributive policies); as they experience boundary effects (i.e., where events in one area of politics affect related areas); and as valence changes occur (positive or negative). These can broaden the audience feeling it has a stake in agency decisions and thus prompt these stakeholders to try to shape existing structures, processes, and procedures to their advantage.
As noted earlier, however, while RCI theorists focusing on domestic agencies often identify interest groups and congressmembers as dominant actors in agency design and evolution, evidence from the national security policy domain indicates otherwise. Zegart (1999) argues that in conventional national security domains, presidents and bureaucrats typically face only diffuse interests, the interest groups that do exist are far less numerous than in domestic policy domains, and congressional interests are nowhere near as persistent, strong, or protean. As such, presidents and national security agency bureaucrats are the only actors particularly interested in structural matters, and hence, they dominate agency design and evolution.
Still, Zegart's (1999) otherwise compelling amendments to RCI as it applies in the national security domain need additional empirical support because of the absence of focus on this policy domain in the literature. Equally uncertain is whether agency design and evolution in hybrid policy domains, rather than in pure domestic or nondomestic domains, have their own unique political dynamics. Also unclear in light of recent research is whether the traditional "one-way" street principal-agent metaphor of passive, nonstrategic bureaucrats comports empirically with the politics of agency design and evolution in hybrid policy domains, or whether the more recent "two-way" street metaphor of strategic bureaucrats interacting with principals is more appropriate.
One logically deduces from the preceeding that all things being equal:
Proposition 1: The more initial agency design reflects the interests of both enacting and losing coalitions, and the more these lead to rule contestation (i.e., over structure, processes, and procedures) during agency evolution, the greater the explanatory power of RCI.
Proposition 2: The more the transaction costs, information asymmetry, and path dependency created by original agency design allow the military to control the substance, scope, and pace of greening, the stronger the explanatory power of RCI.
Proposition 3: The more shifts prompted by shocks or secular trends in the interest group environment, in congressional oversight committee composition or leadership, and in the preferences of legislative majorities or fixers orrespond to shifts in behavior, the stronger the explanatory power of RCI.
Proposition 4: The more neither Congress and interest groups nor presidents and military officials (bureaucrats) dominate the patterns of politics witnessed, the weaker the explanatory power of RCI.
Proposition 5: The more military bureaucrats play a sustained, persistent, and important role working with elected officials to bring about or resist organizational change, the greater the support for "two-way" as opposed to "one-way" street models of agency design and evolution.
Proposition 6: The more grassroots and subnational government actors influence the patterns of politics exhibited, the weaker the explanatory power of RCI.
To test these propositions, the article turns next to the patterns of politics witnessed in the NRM planning CW demilitarization, and regulatory relief cases.
New Institutionalism, Agency Design and Evolution, and the U.S. Military
Until late in the Cold War, most U.S. citizens had great faith in the military to do what it took to counteract Soviet aggression, and asked questions later. As a consequence, two things happened. First, and more generally, a strong tendency developed toward what Huntington (1957) calls "serviceism" and former Assistant Defense Secretary James Locher calls "service supremacy" (Locher, 2002, p. 15). This entailed antipathy to any centralization of policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), a legacy of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's efforts to do so in the 1960s. Second, and with regard to greening, a culture of sovereignty, secrecy, and sinecure developed that did not ignore ENR laws, but that marginalized ENR values in the military's day-to-day operations on anything but the services' terms.
As for sovereignty, military leaders argued that they, not regulators, knew best how to reconcile environmental protection with military readiness. As such, the armed forces and their allies in Congress persistently challenged on national security and constitutional grounds the authority of federal and state regulators to hold the military accountable to ENR laws. In terms of secrecy, the military tenaciously tried to make its operations as opaque as possible to regulatory and citizen scrutiny. Among other things, the services decided what information about their activities should be released, and they adopted a "decide, announce, and defend" posture when taking actions affecting ENR protection. Finally, in terms of sinecure the services treasured and protected their protean ties with defense contractors and subcontractors, congressmembers, and local communities near military bases, the epoxy of which was the political, financial, and psychic succor that President Eisenhower famously labeled the "military-industrial complex."
The post-Cold War era, however, afforded "shocks" to the national security system that placed the U.S. military more squarely than ever within the crosshairs of federal and state ENR regulators. The major shock involved the demise of the Soviet military threat. With the collapse of the Soviet Union as the United States' only peer warfighting competitor, the Soviet Union, congress members, and domestic agencies anticipated a peace dividend of sizeable proportions, thus placing the Pentagon in an unfamiliar defensive stance. Indeed, the first mini-shocks caused by these developments came packaged in the Base Force Concept and the Bottom-Up Review of U.S. force structures carried out successively by the Bush and Clinton administrations. Combined, these brought defense spending down dramatically to 16 percent of the budget by 1998 ($237 billion) from a little over a quarter of the budget in 1989.
Challenging enough in their own right, these cuts had to be absorbed amid yet another mini-shock occasioned by the end of bipolar dominance: The creation of what defense intellectuals called the New Threat Paradigm (NTP). Army Major David Carstens (2001) summarizes that paradigm as follows: "internal regional strife [occasioned by economic and environmental internationalism], not power-projecting challengers to US primacy [i.e., peer competitors], will likely spark the crises of the 21st century for which US strategy must be prepared" (p. 99). In response, ever more costly and open-ended military contingency operations mounted during the Clinton presidency in places such as Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, and Somalia placed increasing budgetary strains on the military.
Produced also was a second mini-shock to the national security state: A decision that the downsizing of U.S. forces required building a different type of military to operationalize the NTP. The mantra of the Pentagon became that of creating and training a faster, more mobile, and more lethal fighting force. This decision, in turn, set off an additional mini-shock that put the military more squarely than ever within the crosshairs of ENR regulators. Newer, faster, and more powerful jet fighter engines and armor divisions with higher performance standards (e.g., greater maneuverability, stealth, and lethality) are also often louder, fly lower to the ground or damage it more directly, and emit more pollutants over broader areas. They also can require greater and greater amounts of battle space for training and testing, precisely at a time when urban development, sprawl, and commercial competition for airspace were expanding near many of the military's training areas.
Thus, by the early 1990s, a perfect storm hit the military. More money was needed to meet the Clinton administration's warfighting commitments, yet downsizing and force restructuring were reducing budgets, and federal and state ENR regulators and litigious interest groups were clamoring for the services to green their operations to protect public health, safety, and the environment. Faced with these unaccustomed and competing pressures, and consistent with the military's Cold War ethic of sovereignty, secrecy, and sinecure, the services portrayed ENR protection as a nondefense-related expenditure that diverted resources from readiness and weapons modernization. The military claimed that ENR laws compromised their ability to train service members "as they fight," thus jeopardizing combat readiness, battlefield effectiveness, and service members' lives. Consequently, the Pentagon (not regulators) had to control the substance, extent, and pace of greening. Responding to these "encroachment" arguments, proponents of greening argued that failing to green the U.S. military threatened military readiness and modernization by sapping resources to fight court suits for ENR violations, to pay for fines and cleanups of violations, and to prevent both training ranges and training operations on land, sea, and in the air from being shut down.
But then came two additional shocks to the political system that seemed to work in favor of those opposing greening military operations on anything but the Pentagon's terms: The Republican takeover of Congress after the 1994 congressional elections and, much later, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As the following cases illustrate, the military gained as much leverage as it could from these shocks, but did not totally get its way. In the process, they also illustrate that only mixed support exists for RCI's explanatory and predictive power in this hybrid policy domain.
As RCI posits, rule contestation over structures, processes, and procedures was the persistent legacy bequeathed by the enacting and losing coalitions during agency evolution toward greening (Proposition 1). Likewise, progress came only after (if not in spite of) sustained counteroffensives by the military to use or alter to its advantage the transaction costs of the structures, processes, and procedures put in place to insulate the military during the Cold War (Proposition 2). Moreover, progress in greening came with, and was especially vulnerable to, consistency or changes in the audience paying attention to the fight (Proposition 3).
However, contrary to RCI-derived expectations, the cases demonstrate that hybrid policy domains can bring together enacting and losing coalitions of actors from domestic and national security domains. These actors both understood the stakes involved in policy design and evolution and engaged in rule contestation over them. Opened and closed, respectively, in the process were the relatively opaque world of national security policy and the relatively open world of domestic policy. As such, hybrid policy domains took on the characteristics of both domestic and national security policy domains, rendering problematic RCI propositions derived uniquely from either one of them.
The cases also illustrate how the key actors during the contests were neither combinations of presidents and bureaucrats (as RCI analysis from the national security policy domain posits) nor combinations of interest groups and congress-members (as many studying domestic agencies have found) (Proposition 4). Rather, the dominant players were congressmembers and bureaucrats. Revealed in the process is how neither "one-way" nor "two-way" street metaphors totally capture the patterns of politics witnessed in this hybrid policy arena (Proposition 5), as bureaucrats persistently engaged in strategic behavior and proactively pursued their agendas. Yet the cases also suggest that highway "rotaries" may be a more apt metaphor in hybrid policy domains given the constant involvement of grassroots groups and subnational governments (Proposition 6) in trying to shape structural, process, and procedural designs to gain or protect their access, influence, and power.
The Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) Planning Challenge
Enacted in 1966, the Sikes Act implied that NRM planning would occur at U.S. military installations. Among other things, Sikes authorized interagency efforts (viz., with the Fish & Wildlife Service [FWS] and state environmental agencies) to carry out conservation programs on these properties. These included "the development, maintenance, and coordination of wildlife, fish, and game conservation and rehabilitation on military installations" (Inside Washington Publishers [IWP], 1995a). Still, consistent with RCI theories, military opponents and their allies in the losing faction in Congress inserted Department of Defense (DOD)-backed language into Sikes with enough ambiguity and, hence, transaction costs during the Cold War to ensure that military readiness stood an excellent chance of prevailing over resource management concerns.
Sikes, for example, instructed the Secretary of Defense to manage installations with NRM ends in mind, but only "consistent with essential military requirements to enhance the national security of the United States" (IWP, 1995a). Moreover, the assignment of monitoring responsibilities to the FWS and state regulators again advantaged the military during negotiations, with the latter controlling access to bases on national security grounds. In addition, both the FWS and many state regulators were often located in pro-development departments where their functions were persistently underfunded relative to their ENR responsibilities. As such, military officials understood and successfully pursued legislative language that left ultimate discretion to the services to figure out the correct "balance" between military readiness and NRM planning.
By the early 1970s, however, two new planning statutes were added to the equation: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the ESA. Again, as RCI predicts, compromise during the legislative process among proponents and opponents resulted in DOD-backed language assigning implementation responsibilities to organizationally disadvantaged and resource-deficient organizations (respectively, the Council of Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the President and the FWS in the Department of the Interior [DOI]) (Clarke & McCool, 1996; Tobin, 1990). Yet both laws still required a level of transparency in the services' planning processes that clashed directly with their Cold War culture of sovereignty, secrecy, and sinecure.
As a consequence, any integrated INRM planning efforts mounted during the 1970s and 1980s with regard to either statute were more reactive than proactive and characterized as tangential to the military's core warfighting mission rather than key sustainers of it. Moreover, any effort to combine installation management and ENR responsibilities in one single unit within the Pentagon and in all the service branches to carry out this planning was persistently foiled. This, despite everyone knowing that integrating training and ENR values could only be done and implemented if these structures were consolidated. Thus, no better testament existed to the durability of the enacting coalition's predilection and ability to use existing structures, processes, and procedures to keep ENR values tangential and subservient to military readiness values. Nor could better support for "two-way" rather than "one-way" street metaphors be found, with the military strategically pursuing regulatory relief and interacting to advance that cause with its allies in Congress on the armed services committees.
The 1990s, however, brought the shock of the end of the Cold War, the return of Democratic control of the White House and Congress, and a significantly more environmentally oriented Clinton administration. Setting off a variety of ENR mini-shocks cascading through the Pentagon, Clinton first elevated the George H.W. Bush administration's environmental office to Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security) status. His appointee to this position, Sherri Wasserman Goodman, then targeted for change various land-management statutes and existing program, process, and procedural components put forth by enacting ENR coalitions, but addled with DOD-backed language to ensure that INRM planning was not done on anything but the military's terms.
Goodman focused (among other things) on boosting the stature and resources of the Pentagon's purposely limited and resource-challenged Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program. In 1994, she issued an "Ecosystem Management Policy Directive" to make ITAM a model showing how ENR values might be more fully integrated into military operations (Goodman, 1993). Again consistent with RCI tenants, however, political "time and space" quickly intervened. After the 1994 midterm elections shifted control of Congress to the Republicans, a funding assault began on both the Sikes and ITAM programs, justified partially on the premise that these were nondefense-related expenditures.
Nor did the military idly await regulatory relief from its superiors. Beginning in the 104th Congress, and illustrative of how the highway rotary metaphor captures the patterns of politics in this hybrid policy domain, grassroots environmentalists and state regulators proposed that all INRM plans be "mutually agreed to" by DOD, the FWS, and state fish and wildlife agencies (IWP, 1995b). Seeing an opportunity to boost the then low priority of NRM funding in the Pentagon because of its consciously designed disadvantaged structural position in "the building," the services proposed accepting greater transparency, but only in return for DOD having final say over the plans when disputes arose among the parties. Moreover, the Pentagon also wanted to substitute "developed in consultation with" the states and the FWS for "mutually agreed to" by these actors. Seeing the language as an effort to roll back the enacting coalition's language giving state regulators a say in NRM decisions, subnational government and grassroots groups not typically incorporated in RCI models joined the FWS in challenging Goodman's language (e.g., the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies).
Rather than act unilaterally under these circumstances, House Armed Services Committee members asked DOD and DOI bureaucrats (but with no state input) to "fight [it] out internally" and return with a joint recommendation (IWP, 1995c, p. 15). In the end, this two-way street relationship garnered DOI's favored "mutually agreed to" language. But the resilience of the political economy that had grown over the years around these decision-making processes to create path dependency ensured that DOD salvaged a dispute resolution structure to its liking (IWP). Not only did DOD get the final say when disputes arose, but state agencies did not gain equal legal footing in INRM plan development.
Devastating also for Goodman's plans for transparency and INRM planning, the Army zeroed-out funding requests to Congress for ITAM in its fiscal year (FY) 2000-05 program objective memorandum (IWP, 1998b). Later, the Army proposed restoring ITAM funding for FY 2001-05, with a slight increase from $30 to $32 million annually (IWP, 1999a), and President Clinton's budget request for FY 2000 restored ITAM funding in FY 2003-05. Congress, however, allocated only $18.7 million for the program in FY 2000. Seven months later, DOD's Program Analysis and Evaluation directorate recommended a cut of $24 million in the Army's ITAM budget (IWP, 1999b).
By then, too, the military was trying to frustrate reform by using a 1997 INRM planning mandate from Congress to get regulatory relief from aspects of its planning nemesis: the ESA. The aim was to get the FWS to accept INRM plans as the functional equivalent of designating the land officially as critical habitat under the ESA. If successful, the military would again narrow the transparency of the process of listing species on military lands by obviating the more robust outside scrutiny afforded by the ESA. Operating by then under a court order (Sierra Club v. Glickman, 1998) to reduce habitat-listing backlogs by October 2000, a resource-challenged FWS embraced the military's call for legislative action. The Natural Resources Defense Council countered that having an INRM plan did not mean that special management considerations or protections for the endangered species were actually in place protecting species or their habitats (IWP, 2001a). Yet, as the Clinton presidency ended, the military's position prevailed, with a mighty boost from allies in Congress and from historically resource-strapped federal regulators.
At that point, the next shock to the system came with the election of George W. Bush over the more environmentally oriented Al Gore, and with it temporary Republican control of key congressional committees overseeing the U.S. military (until Jim Jeffords [R-VT] became an independent in the Senate). As expected, this shift immediately provoked the Bush administration's first effort at INRM regulatory relief in the form of a controversial executive order toying with existing agency designs by allowing "cooperative conservation" initiatives by the military with federal and state regulators. These would have only shifted control further toward the military as the services and regulators were now treated as equals. Still, the 2004 defense authorization bill legislated what the military had acquired only administratively from the FWS: Any base with an existing INRM plan (in operation or on paper) automatically satisfied critical habitat designation requirements (IWP, 2003a). All this left the services well positioned structurally to control the substance, pace, and scope of range conservation efforts.
Thus, as RCI predicts, the transaction costs of change in agency design, and the path dependency they created, sorely complicated this greening effort in the post-Cold War era. Indeed, the military got final authority to decide any disputes with regulators that arose at any base. So, too, did the organizational design factors imposed by the winning coalitions in ENR policy impose equally high transaction costs for opponents of applying ENR planning requirements on anything but the military's terms. Progress in producing INRM plans at bases was made. Overall, however, the military retained basic control over the substance, scope of adoption, and pace of INRM planning. The Army Audit Agency, for example, later reported that the Army failed to budget for these programs until the FY 2005 cycle. Also, despite the Pentagon issuing range conservation initiatives in 1999, "the Army did not instruct its commands and installations to implement them and did not provide implementing guidance until 2003" (IWP, 2003b).
The Chemical Weapons Demilitarization Challenge
Enacted in 1992 and activated in 1997, the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) required the United States to eliminate its entire inventory of CW by 2007. This meant destroying over 30,000 metric tons of CW, a daunting task for the military even under the best of circumstances. Still, the Army (as lead service) did have considerable experience during the Cold War with such tasks, serving as the lead DOD component demilitarizing obsolete CW. In fact, it had virtually unchallenged experience since the early 1980s with chemical demilitarization, albeit hardly on the scale envisioned at the end of the Cold War and without the degree of scrutiny it would face in the post-Cold War era.
Thus, not only was the military's sovereignty, secrecy, and sinecure ethic strongly in place by the early 1990s when it came to demilitarization of weapons, but it was quite set in its ways regarding how best to dispose of CW. Moreover, and as RCI posits, when Congress gave the Army responsibility for designing a disposal program, DOD crafted structures, processes, and procedures designed to privilege military over ENR values. For example, the Office of Program Manager for Chemical Weapons Destruction--the primary office handling these responsibilities--reported ultimately to the Deputy Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, an office not known for environmental sensibilities. Moreover, congressmembers "stacked the deck" by posing high transaction costs for anyone pursuing green values in this policy arena, most especially by affording no formal role to federal ENR agencies like EPA.
Insulated in this fashion by DOD congressional allies seeking to prevent coalitional or bureaucratic drift during most of the Cold War, the Army developed a preferred or baseline technological preference for CW disposal: incineration. Service officials argued that alternatives to incineration were unproven and were likely to cause the United States to miss the CWC's 2007 deadline. This, they argued, was dangerous for two reasons. First, the United State's international leadership on this issue would be undermined and second, the longer these weapons sat around waiting for a technological breakthrough, the more volatile they became and, hence, the less safe local citizens would be.
As RCI also predicts, however, shifts in political context began in the late 1980s to offer a chance to challenge DOD's structural sovereignty, secrecy, and sinecure afforded the program by Congress. This happened as fears of toxic emissions from incineration became a national issue, thus provoking a similar shift in issue images near the Army's eight proposed disposal sites. As RCI theory does not incorporate, however, a vibrant grassroots anti-incineration movement began in Kentucky near the planned Blue Grass Depot incineration site, and subsequently spread to other disposal sites. Joined with those sympathetic to the aims of the enacting ENR statutory coalition associated with the Clean Air Act (CAA) (e.g., the National Resources Defense Council), this movement's aim was to change existing decision-making structures, processes, and procedures, to halt incineration at the sites.
These actors were soon joined by grassroots groups seeking power, access, and influence over CW disposal decisions. These included the National Toxics Campaign and the Chemical Weapons Working Group, plus established groups like the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and various Gulf War veterans' associations. The veterans' associations joined as a result of boundary effects from their ongoing battles with the military over the alleged health risks of napalm on service members during the Vietnam War and over depleted uranium health problems from defensive armor plating and smoke from oil fields during the Gulf War. Still, these groups had little recourse except those provided by the enacting coalition of the CAA for citizen lawsuits. These suits (or threats of them) imposed delays until Congress began turning up the heat on the program during the Clinton years. In response, the Army first proposed allowing neutralization as a backup to incineration at its two low-volume bulk storage sites, Aberdeen in Maryland and Newport in Indiana.
Still, by 1994, events were making it increasingly clear that the substance, pace, and progress of the Army's incineration program--as influenced by its structures, processes, and procedures--lay in decisions made in Washington and in the hands of stockpile states, localities, and court petitioners. For example, when managers at several stockpile sites began eyeing transportation of CW to other states to avoid more restrictive state incineration laws, environmentalists working with sympathetic defense appropriators were able to kill a proposal by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) to study the feasibility of transporting CW to centralized destruction centers using incineration (IWP, 1997). Subsequently, senators like Orin Hatch (R-UT), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D-CO), and Hank Brown (R-CO), as well as Representative Scott McInnis (R-CO), persistently pressed in their committees for nonincineration research to be extended to all eight sites. Likewise, Kentucky senators Wendell Ford (D) and Mitch McConnell (R) were instrumental in getting Congress to agree that incinerator construction at the Blue Grass (KY) and Pueblo (CO) stockpile sites could not proceed until after DOD reported to Congress the results of a feasibility study for nonincineration disposal technologies (IWP, 1999c).
At the same time that the agency evolution "rotary" was getting more bottom-up and congested with demands for structural change, Congress altered the enacting coalition's design. It did so by creating the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) program (later renamed the Chemical Weapons Disposal Program [CWDP]) for doing this kind of research. Fearing, however, that ACWA initiatives could die aborning, Congress also stipulated in 1996 that the Army's Office of the Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization could not manage the program, because it had so tenaciously resisted alternatives to incineration in the past.
As RCI predicts, however, the ancien regime was not to be trifled with. With concerns over the Army's management of the program mounting during the first Clinton term, the Pentagon had taken exclusive program oversight away from the Army and placed it within the OSD where presumably a broader perspective was to be found. Yet between 1997 and 1999, as a distracted White Office dealt with impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, DOD Deputy Secretary John Hamre announced that the Pentagon wanted Congress to re-delegate all CW program functions, oversight responsibilities, and funding authorities from the OSD to the Army (IWP, 1998a). In the interim, he would move ahead with re-delegation administratively. As one Chemical Weapons Working Group critic noted: "You're putting the pilot program for ACWA directly in the camp of the very people who were specifically legislated out of this program," because no one trusted them to carry out its mission (IWP, 1999d).
With communities across the eight depot states claiming that the Army failed to take their concerns about incineration seriously, an independent analysis of the CWDP a year after Hamre's decision argued that devolvement of management responsibilities from the OSD to the Army threatened "to disrupt progress severely" (IWP, 1998b). Decrying the symbolic demotion of the program and the management frustrations that had resulted in the interim, these experts explained how devolution had "forced the program and its former OSD leader down the chain of command ... [leaving] ... uncertainty as to lines of authority and responsibility" in its wake (IWP). Collectively, these structures, processes, and procedures divided CW responsibilities among different offices in the Army and the DOD, further clouding transparency, insulating Army actions from scrutiny, and marginalizing ENR values in its CWDP.
So fractured and (sometimes) duplicative were the consolidated structures involved, for example, that state and local officials persistently complained about getting "inconsistent and conflicting" guidance when dealing with the CWDP (IWP, 2000a). Significantly, this frustration continued throughout the remainder of the Clinton years, with a 1998 independent assessment of the CW program citing "leadership weaknesses ..., a fractured program, and the failure of management to keep up with a maturing program" (IWP, 1998b). Left in the wake was a halfway, halting, and patchworked financial management system, one characterized by Arthur Anderson consultants as so rife with "complex[ity] and confusion" by the end of the Clinton administration that it, too, was contributing to inordinate and costly program delays (IWP, 2000b).
All this was but prologue, however, when the DOD Comptroller's office found that the program had $416 million in unobligated funds at the end of 1998 (IWP, 1999e). After listening for months to assurances by DOD and the Clinton administration's Office of Management and Budget that there were no funds for testing incineration alternatives, angry appropriators mandated cuts in all CW account budget requests and ordered reprogramming of what was available. "We are concerned that DOD has failed to adequately implement the [program], to account for the funds appropriated by Congress, and has shifted funds for this effort to meet other Department priorities [meaning core warfighting missions]" (IWP, p. 5).
Nor did things get better by the end of the Clinton administration. A General Accounting Office report issued in 2000 found continuing systemic problems in CW financial management (IWP, 1999e, p. 5). Likewise, an internal Army audit found significant "accounting system lapses" (IWP, 2000c). Then, well into the second term of the George W. Bush administration, the United States formally asked to extend the CWC's cleanup deadline to 2012. Even then, however, the Army remained on the offensive, taking advantage of the convoluted structures, processes, and procedures that kept the program opaque and protective of its interests. While alternatives were tested, they were still not done on a scale envisioned by critics.
Deregulating for National Security? The Range Readiness and Preservation Initiative (RRPI) Challenge
As noted, the election of George W. Bush brought a decidedly less environmentally friendly administration to Washington. As RCI predicts, this political shock again sent mini-shocks throughout the national defense establishment. But significantly, the first call for regulatory relief for the military came from Congress even before Clinton left the White House. Key House and Senate members of the armed services committees who had historically opposed greening as nondefense-related spending invited the military to offer a legislative package for ENR relief (IWP, 2001b). Sought unsuccessfully by the military in ensuing years was a rider to the FY 2002 appropriations bill preventing the FWS from complying with future court orders to designate critical habitat (IWP, 2001c). Then, DOD asked the armed services committees (not the ENR committees) to require a "national security impact statement" anytime the military had to do an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement (IWP, 2001d).
Amid this onslaught, however, others pursued intentions of the original enacting coalitions of ENR laws. They characterized the military's claims for exemptions as only the latest wrinkle in a decades-long effort to fight greening on anything but the services' terms. Yet after the shock of the September 11th attacks, the military and its congressional allies on the armed services committees kicked into even higher gear their campaign to alter existing ENR regulatory structures, processes, and procedures. Most significantly in the wake of this context-redefining event, the Pentagon circulated a draft of the "Sustainable Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Act" (later renamed the RRPI), a bill designed to grant broad exemptions from ENR laws as threats to national security.
The military's action, in turn, wrought an equally swift and predictable reaction from environmentalists and state regulators (IWP, 2001e, 2002a). The Department of Defense was using the War on Terrorism to win legislatively what the military had not been able to win during the Clinton years, or to roll back regulatory gains--and the revamped structures, processes, and procedures underpinning them--that had been made. Riling these critics most was language exempting DOD training and readiness activities from the administrative processes and procedures of the CAA for five years; exempting munitions, explosives, and other equipment from classification as "pollutants" or "dredge or fill material" under the Clean Water Act; excluding munitions and other DOD equipment from classification as "solid waste," and thus avoiding the processes and procedures established by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when they are located on active training ranges; and allowing the president to declare any military action exempt from the administrative processes and procedures of the Coastal Zone Management Act. The draft also granted regulatory relief from the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
After strong protests were filed by the FWS and EPA, DOD subsequently modified its original draft. Yet the new draft still called for significant exemptions from (2002a, 2002b). The military, for example, sought a narrower definition of "harassment" of marine mammals than that afforded by the MMPA, arguing that the current definition was so broad that they had to obtain permits for training exercises that involved "relatively benign operations" (IWP, 2003c, p. 3). Sought as well were a three-year (rather than five-year) delay on compliance with applicable CAA standards and procedures, as well as exclusions for munitions and related pollutants as hazardous wastes under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (or Superfund) and RCRA.
Initially, the House Armed Services Committee voted to allow temporary exemptions to the military for incidental killing of migratory birds during training, and placed restrictions on how much land the military had to set aside for critical habitat designations. The committee, however, also rejected the military's requests for a three-year delay in complying with CAA standards and excluding munitions-related pollutants from Superfund and RCRA. Ultimately, these results were attributable to several factors, including the determined opposition of a vocal coalition of congressional Democrats, a handful of Republicans, environmental activists, and state regulators. But most critically, Democrats still held a majority in the Senate.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), for example, refused to consider several major provisions, because ENR laws did not fall within the original jurisdiction of his committee. This, after the Pentagon's congressional allies tried to exclude environmental committees from deliberations. Further infuriating Levin was the Pentagon's by-then familiar tactic of submitting ENR proposals to his committee only days before markup began. So frustrating, in turn, was Levin's action to the military and its congressional allies that they floated language to make formal in the FY 2003 defense authorization bill what the military had long tried to circumvent: Limiting the jurisdiction of congressional ENR committees to review defense-related bills involving encroachment issues.
All this changed, as RCI posits, once the 2002 midterm elections shifted control of the Senate and House to the Republicans. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a member rarely opposing the military, became chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Likewise, eco-skeptic James Inhofe (R-OK) became chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (while simultaneously serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee). As one environmentalist lamented: "I see DOD salivating over what they [the military] got" politically as a result of the midterm elections (IWP, 2002c, p. 3). Committee referral would henceforth marginalize ENR committees by routing changes first, if not exclusively, through more sympathetic armed services committees.
This effort by the military to limit the scope of the conflict to friendly venues may have been effective because of the Republican majority control of floor rules. However, the Pentagon's success in attacking the structures, processes, and procedures crafted in ENR laws was not within Congress's total control. This was the case because of the states' implementation role in many of the ENR laws under fire, and because most ENR statutes used citizen suits as a key component of enforcement. Ignored in most top-down analyses, these subnational government and interest group actors became irate when the services began reframing exemptions to ENR laws as "narrowly focused clarifications." "DOD's proposal would create a blanket exemption for military readiness activities," said the executive director of the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators, "irrespective of the need for the exemption or the impact on air quality and public health ... it's a get-out-of-jail-free card" (IWP, 2005, p. 3).
Absent more compelling evidence that military training was hurt as much as the military claimed, and in the face of an assault on the bill by state regulators, the armed services committee felt compelled not to allow process and procedural exemptions to the military for RCRA, the CAA, and Superfund. Importantly, while these public-health-related exemptions were not made, amendments to natural resource laws were enacted. Natural resource laws, of course, involve policies and programs that lack issues as salient, constituencies as strong, and "clientele" as positively valenced as environmental laws affecting public health and safety (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993; Czech & Krausman, 2001; Tobin, 1990). Once again, however, the Pentagon, the military, and congressional allies were not content with these natural resource victories. By mid-2004, the Pentagon announced that the services planned in 2005 again to pursue exemptions from established regulatory structures, processes, and procedures in both RCRA and Superfund (IWP, 2004; see IWP, 2005). These, too, failed, and a subsequent effort was mounted in 2006. Bridled environmentalists, the military "won't budge unless they're forced" (IWP, 2004).
Terry Moe (2003) has written that "absent any exogenous changes in the underlying society (e.g., in social groups and their resources), the process of institution-building should tend to reinforce the existing power structure, constrain the kinds of institutions that get created, and promote stability. Rational actors in positions of institutional power will resist any changes that threaten their power, and they will use their existing institutional power to do it" (pp. 23-24). The preceding analysis of three major components of efforts to green the U.S. military in the post-Cold War era certainly confirm that general tendency.
The analysis suggests that RCI offers important insights into the patterns of politics involved in agency design and evolution. As per the first three propositions tested, each of the cases demonstrates that the structures, processes, and procedures enacted by original enacting coalitions and opponents did serve as the predicates for change, became targets for reform battles, and constrained change efforts because of the transaction costs imposed. Moreover, as RCI posits, shocks and mini-shocks prompted changes in the political context of agency evolution that afforded opportunities for change, but that did not guarantee them. For example, shifts of congressional majorities (and, hence, committee chairs) wrought changes in military behavior in expected directions (but see below).
When it comes to Propositions 4 through 6, however, RCI's explanatory power for agency evolution when hybrid policy domains are involved weakens. First, the audience paying attention to the fight spiraled far beyond what RCI conceptualizes. This occurred as the dynamics of widely open, decentralized, and dense domestic issue domains interacted with typically closed, centralized, and sparse national security domains. Consider, for example, the implications of the cases for modeling bureaucratic or coalitional drift. From the perspective of ENR proponents in these cases, bureaucratic and coalitional drift from ENR laws stipulating military compliance were occurring, and they rallied (as expected) to try to redress this situation. At the same time, however, members sympathetic with the aims of the enacting coalition(s) on national defense policies saw greening as nondefense-related concerns and, hence, the product of bureaucratic or coalitional drift. Each version of drift, in turn, brought very different subsystems, issue networks, and values into play.
Second, and relatedly, the cases suggest that Washington-centric RCI perspectives suffer in explanatory and predictive power if not adapted to incorporate bottom-up pressures that go far beyond the electoral connection posited by rational choice institutionalists studying U.S. agency design and evolution. Witnessed across all the cases was the impact on organizational change and evolution of sustained, persistent, and protean bottom-up forces like state and local governmental and grassroots nongovernmental actors. With these came both direct and indirect efforts through Congress to ensure structures, processes, and procedures that guaranteed these subnational actors power, access, and influence in future operating decisions by agencies.
Third, the patterns of influence witnessed in the cases were neither "one-way" streets between elected officials and bureaucrats in Washington nor exclusively "two-way" streets. To be sure, the military's career bureaucracy was decisively more strategic than one-way street metaphors suggest, and elected principals in both the White House and Congress knew they were not dealing with passive and malleable agents. As such, more recent characterizations of principal-agent relationships by Krause (1999) as two-way streets garner additional confirmation in this study. Still, the freewheeling, multidirectional, and subnational nature of the efforts to contest rules related to structures, processes, and procedures were not captured in two-way metaphors either. Rather, and for metaphorical consistency, they were more like busy highway "rotaries," with actors merging from all directions (legislative, executive, and judicial, as well as federal, state, and local); fighting to enter and exit the rotary (some easily and some with great difficulty); and with some knowing the rules and others making them up as they went along.
Fourth, contrary to the predictions of some RCI theorists, the pattern of politics regarding agency evolution related to this hybrid policy domain was dominated during the Clinton presidency by Congress and the military bureaucracy rather than either by Congress and interest groups (as is often the case in domestic policy) or by presidents and the bureaucracy (as in national security policy). As noted, subnational government and interest group actors sought changes that were more amenable to increasing their influence or diminishing their marginalization. Moreover, the pressure from these subnational actors influenced the patterns that agency evolution eventually took, by offering or fighting initiatives. Still, in all cases, the dominant players were Congress and the military bureaucracy.
The caveats associated with generalizing from case studies are well known and well founded. Moreover, the findings reported in this study may not be limited to agencies working in or affected by hybrid policy domains. They may, in fact, render problematic the insights to date of RCI research on agency design and evolution in "pure" domestic or "pure" national security agencies. By the same token, this study suggests that rather than starting from agency type (e.g., domestic or national security), a more useful approach may be to start with policy type. In any event, a robust, timely, and important research agenda that tests, elaborates, and extends the insights of prior scholarship in domestic, national security, and hybrid policy domains is needed to enhance the explanatory power of RCI when it comes to agency design and evolution in the contemporary administrative state.
Robert F. Durant is professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University. His research interests include public management, policy design and implementation, and environmental and natural resource policy. His latest book is "Greening the U.S. Military: Environmental Policy, National Security, and Organizational Change" (Georgetown University Press, 2007).
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, DC, August 31-September 4, 2005. The author wishes to thank the anonymous PSJ reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.
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