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Expert Opinion, Agency Characteristics, and Agency Preferences

  • Joshua D. Clinton (a1) and David E. Lewis (a2)

The study of bureaucracies and their relationship to political actors is central to understanding the policy process in the United States. Studying this aspect of American politics is difficult because theories of agency behavior, effectiveness, and control often require measures of administrative agencies' policy preferences, and appropriate measures are hard to find for a broad spectrum of agencies. We propose a method for measuring agency preferences based upon an expert survey of agency preferences for 82 executive agencies in existence between 1988 and 2005. We use a multirater item response model to provide a principled structure for combining subjective ratings based on scholarly and journalistic expertise with objective data on agency characteristics. We compare the resulting agency preference estimates and standard errors to existing alternative measures, discussing both the advantages and limitations of the method.

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Authors' note: We thank Tom Hammond, George Krause, and Joshua Tucker for helpful comments. We are grateful to Simon Jackman and Shawn Treier for generously providing their code and our survey respondents for their time and expertise.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Nolan M. McCarty 2004. The appointments dilemma. American Journal of Political Science 48(3): 413–28.

David C. Nixon 2004. Separation of powers and appointee ideology. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 20(2): 438–57.

Barry W. Weingast , and Mark J. Moran 1983. Bureaucratic discretion or congressional control? Regulatory policymaking by the Federal Trade Commission. Journal of Political Economy 91(5): 765800.

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Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
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