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Title page for ETD etd-08012017-090007


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Richardson, Mark Decleene
URN etd-08012017-090007
Title The Politicization of Federal Agencies and Its Consequences: Agency Design, Presidential Appointments, and Policy Expertise
Degree PhD
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David E. Lewis Committee Chair
Alan E. Wiseman Committee Member
Edward L. Rubin Committee Member
Joshua D. Clinton Committee Member
Kevin M. Stack Committee Member
Keywords
  • presidential appointments
  • federal agencies
  • public administration
Date of Defense 2017-07-26
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Using authority delegated to their agencies by law, civil servants make and implement policies that influence virtually all aspects of modern life. Importantly, policymaking and implementation are only the final steps in a sequence of decisions that determines the content and quality of public policy. First, an agency must be created and staffed. In this dissertation, I examine these earlier steps: agency design, presidential appointment strategies, and civil servants' career decisions. Agency structure determines the degree of control elected officials have over the agency, and elected officials' efforts to control agency policymaking affect civil servants' job satisfaction and, in turn, their career decisions. Chapter 1 develops a formal model of agency design to generate predictions about when interest groups, which play an important role in the politics of agency design, prefer federal agencies that are more or less subject to political control. Chapter 2 evaluates how presidents use their appointment authority, and Chapter 3 examines the effect of presidential efforts to gain control of agency policymaking via appointments on civil servants' career decisions. I show that politicizing federal agencies, defined as concentrating policy influence among political appointees, reduces agencies' human capital via two mechanisms: increased turnover and reduced investment in policy expertise. In sum, agency design, the appointees whom presidents choose, and the career decisions of civil servants all have important consequences for the content and quality of public policy. This dissertation helps us to understand each of these choices.
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