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Learning While Governing: Expertise and Accountability in the Executive Branch

by Sean Gailmard and John W Patty University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 336 pages
AU$76.00 NZ$80.00
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Although their leaders and staff are not elected, bureaucratic agencies have the power to make policy decisions that carry the full force of the law. In this groundbreaking book, Sean Gailmard and John W. Patty explore an issue central to political science and public administration: How do Congress and the president ensure that bureaucratic agencies implement their preferred policies? The assumption has long been that bureaucrats bring to their positions expertise, which must then be marshaled to serve the interests of a particular policy. In Learning While Governing, Gailmard and Patty overturn this conventional wisdom, showing instead that much of what bureaucrats need to know to perform effectively is learned on the job. Bureaucratic expertise, they argue, is a function of administrative institutions and interactions with political authorities that collectively create an incentive for bureaucrats to develop expertise. The challenge for elected officials is therefore to provide agencies with the autonomy to do so while making sure they do not stray significantly from the administration and Atilde;s course. To support this claim, the authors analyze several types of information-management processes. Learning While Governing speaks to an issue with direct bearing on power relations between Congress, the president, and the executive agencies, and it will be a welcome addition to the literature on bureaucratic development.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS1 IntroductionPART I Acquiring Information2 Developing Administrative Expertise3 Expertise and Deference4 The Federal Civil ServicePART II Sharing Information5 Agents for Policy Advice under Separation of Powers6 Congressional Development of the Institutional PresidencyPART III Eliciting Information7 Information, Regulated Interests, and Administrative Policymaking8 The SEC and the Regulation of Finance9 ConclusionNOTESBIBLIOGRAPHYINDEX

''For the creativity of its design, the importance of its subject matter, and the depth of its analysis, Learning While Governing is sure to make a splash in the discipline. Sean Gailmard and John W. Patty dish up a rich array of insights into the development of policy expertise within the executive branch. Most importantly, they show that the development and transmittal of expertise is unavoidably haphazard, as the institutional solutions to some problems of governance unavoidably exacerbate others.'' (William G. Howell, University of Chicago)''
ASean Gailmard is the Judith E. Gruber Associate Professor in the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.A. John W. Patty is associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis.