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THREE ESSAYS ON BUREAUCRACY AND DEMOCRACY: A BUREAUCRATIC REPUTATION APPROACH TO U.S. FEDERAL RULEMAKING
Since the advent of the administrative state, how to reconcile bureaucratic discretion and power with the norms of democratic governance has been a central question in the field of public administration, political science, and administrative law. However, this question has been primarily addressed from the political control and procedural politicking perspectives that presume a lack of bureaucratic accountability without sufficiently considering how bureaucrats use their discretion and power. Building on the bureaucratic reputation perspective that reflects well the public value trade-offs and implementation issues bureaucrats must deal with, this dissertation explores the compatibility of bureaucracy with democracy in the context of U.S. federal rulemaking. First, this dissertation examines when and why agency rulemaking follows or circumvents the notice-and-comment process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). It finds that agencies follow the notice-and-comment process more faithfully when acquiring implementation knowledge and cooperation from affected groups becomes important to prevent implementation failure and reputational damage. Second, this study investigates whether and how uncertainty in rule implementation affects the timing of rule finalization, exploring the role of participatory rulemaking in mediating such a relationship. It also demonstrates that regulatory delay occurs when agencies deal with the rules that require greater cooperation from affected groups for effective implementation, which is partially attributed to the increased use of participatory rulemaking. Third, this dissertation examines the impacts of bureaucratic reputation on congressional delegation and agency responsiveness. It finds the partisan use of agency reputation by both Congress and agencies, indicating that the politics of reputation might become entangled with partisan politics. Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that the democratic implications of bureaucratic discretion and power can be explored in a more balanced and comprehensive way through the bureaucratic reputation perspective that effectively captures bureaucrats’ reputational incentives at the task, organization, and political environment levels.
Committee chairKenneth J. Meier
Committee member(s)David H. Rosenbloom; Nathan Favero; William G. Resh
Degree disciplinePublic Administration and Policy
Degree grantorAmerican University. School of Public Affairs