Seeking Experts: Advisory Committees and the Politics of Bureaucratic Expertise

Doherty, Kathleen, Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Jenkins, Jeffery, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

My dissertation focuses on the questions: 1) why do agency leaders incorporate advisory committees of private sector experts into the rulemaking process and 2) are they consequential? The dissertation is comprised of three papers. The first paper examines why agencies create advisory committees through an analysis of advisory committee creation and renewal across the federal bureaucracy. The next two papers focus on the use of advisory committees in the FDA. Effectively regulating pharmaceutical drugs requires that the FDA possess highly skilled labor, despite competition from the pharmaceutical firms and academia. In addition, personnel must keep pace with the development of new chemical compounds, advances in knowledge about a wide range of diseases and conditions, and methods for assessing the safety and effectiveness of drugs. The second paper considers whether advisory committee recommendations affect policy outcomes, and what this evidence can tell us about their role in the policy process. The third paper investigates the historical origins of the advisory committee system in FDA. Collectively, the three papers make the case that when agencies face sufficiently high degrees of policy uncertainty, they will turn to advisory committees as one mechanism to improve the agency expertise.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
bureaucracy, expertise, political control, information, Food and Drug Administration
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