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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

Part III - Anxieties of Governance

  • Edited by Frances E. Lee, University of Maryland, College Park, Nolan McCarty, Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • pp 237-344


We provide an overview of the concept of the “policyscape,” a dense network of policies that structure the current political order, and then assess its relationship with four aspects of American institutional behavior: the creation of new policies; the maintenance of existing policies and programs; policy “thickening” that may lead to additional gridlock and dysfunction during what is an already laborious lawmaking process; and the monitoring of the current policyscape through executive oversight in Congress. We address, among other questions, why new and broad-reaching policy reforms have been scarce in recent years; why Congress has failed to update extant policies in accordance with social, economic, political, and technological developments; and how partisan polarization has affected Congress’ ability to oversee policy implementation and hold the executive branch accountable for administrative failures.