Testing Pendleton's Premise: Do Political Appointees Make Worse Bureaucrats?
Article first published online: 11 OCT 2007
Journal of Politics
Volume 69, Issue 4, pages 1073–1088, November 2007
How to Cite
Lewis, D. E. (2007), Testing Pendleton's Premise: Do Political Appointees Make Worse Bureaucrats?. Journal of Politics, 69: 1073–1088. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00608.x
- Issue published online: 11 OCT 2007
- Article first published online: 11 OCT 2007
- Manuscript submitted 4 August 2006Manuscript accepted for publication 7 February 2007
In this paper I use the Bush Administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) scores—a numerical measure of federal program performance—to analyze the relationship between political appointees and management. I find that federal programs administered by politically appointed bureau chiefs get systematically lower PART evaluations than programs run by bureau chiefs drawn from the civil service. I find that career managers have more direct bureau experience and longer tenures, and these characteristics are significantly related to performance. Political appointees have higher education levels, more private or not-for-profit management experience, and more varied work experience than careerists but these characteristics are uncorrelated with performance. I conclude that reducing the number of appointees or increased sensitivity to appointee selection based upon certain background characteristics could improve federal bureau management.