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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