Controlling the Bureaucracy: Institutional Constraints in Theory and Practice

Controlling the Bureaucracy: Institutional Constraints in Theory and Practice

Controlling the Bureaucracy: Institutional Constraints in Theory and Practice

Controlling the Bureaucracy: Institutional Constraints in Theory and Practice

Synopsis

"Although the growth of bureaucracy has accompanied modernization throughout the world, it has been especially unsettling for America's particular system of democracy. American government has adapted to the rise of the administrative state through three, often-conflicting, means of promoting accountability. It has sought to ensure desired qualities in agency decision making through participatory opportunities and standards of rationality that are enforced through the courts. And both the president and Congress have sought to monitor and shape agencies' actions in accordance with their own policy preferences. Each of these controls has received considerable attention, but there are few up-to-date discussions of all three. This book fills that void by providing a balanced overview of the institutional powers and resources associated with administrative due process and executive and legislative oversight at the federal level." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The M.E. Sharpe series Bureaucracies, Public Administration, and Public Policy is designed as a forum for the best work on bureaucracy and its role in public policy and governance. Although the series is open with regard to approach, methods, and perspectives, especially sought are three types of research. First, the series hopes to attract empirical studies of bureaucracy. Public administration has long been viewed as a theoretical and methodological backwater of political science. This view persists despite a recent flurry of research. The series seeks to place public administration at the forefront of empirical analysis within political science. Second, the series is interested in conceptual work that attempts to clarify theoretical issues, set an agenda for research, or provide a focus for professional debates. Third, the series seeks manuscripts that challenge the conventional wisdom about how bureaucracies influence public policy or the role of public administration in governance.

Controlling the Bureaucracy: Institutional Constraints in Theory and Practice fits into the second and third categories. Bill West has given us a thoughtful and challenging argument concerning the relationship between bureaucracy and political institutions. Since much has been written about political control, the potential for making an original contribution seemingly is not large, but Professor West has challenged what we thought we knew about the issues. In his discussion of courts, he presents a provocative argument that courts and their decisions have no impact on the policy priorities of bureaucracies. Even in areas where deadlines make courts proactive (EPA), they can only force some type of action rather than a specific action. Professor West argues that agencies determine policy long before court-defined procedures kick in. At best such procedures assist only those with the resources and expertise to participate.

In assessing presidential control, the author casts doubt on the validity of the existing arguments in two ways. First, he notes that recent presidents . . .

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