Accumulated Powers: Duration and the Decision to Delegate

Lowande, Kenneth, Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Jenkins, Jeffery, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Volden, Craig, Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, University of Virginia

Extant studies of delegation have accounted for year-to-year variation in the level of discretion delegated to the bureaucracy. What influences the accumulation of those delegated powers is largely unknown. This paper takes a first step toward understanding that accumulation by investigating the initial time horizon provided to bureaucrats—a benchmark by which future reauthorizations and delegations are considered. This outcome is vital for understanding the boundaries of the administrative state, and more broadly, the size and scope of American government across time. In-keeping with recent studies which endogenize the informational asymmetry between bureaucratic agents and their political principals, I find that the duration of delegated authority is chiefly influenced by the cost of acquiring expertise.

MA (Master of Arts)
american politics, delegation, bureaucracy

A previous version of this paper was prepared for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. I thank Andrew Clarke, Dan Gingerich, Thomas Gray, Jeff Jenkins, Jon Kropko, Dave Lewis, Carol Mershon, Emily Pears, Rachel Potter and Craig Volden for helpful comments and suggestions.

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