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Stacking the Deck: Bureaucratic Missions and Policy Design

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Jonathan Bendor
Affiliation:
Stanford University
Serge Taylor
Affiliation:
Carnegie-Mellon University
Roland Van Gaalen
Affiliation:
Stanford University

Abstract

Empirical studies suggest that mission-oriented bureaucrats bias their design of program alternatives to increase the odds that a superior will choose the kind of program the officials want. However, political executives may anticipate this manipulation and try to reassert control. These struggles are examined in three models. In Model 1 a senior bureaucrat is interested only in missions; the bureaucrat's political superior controls him or her by rejecting inferior proposals and entertaining new options from other policy specialists. Model 2 is a principal-agent analysis. Here the official is interested only in budgets; the official's superior reduces search bias by creating an ex ante incentive scheme. In Model 3 the bureaucrat cares about both budgets and programs; the superior uses both his or her final review authority and ex ante incentives to reduce agenda manipulation. The models' contrasting implications for the political control of bureaucracy are examined.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1987

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