Get access

Cooptation or Transformation? Local Policy Networks and Federal Regulatory Enforcement


  • We thank Mark Schneider, Brad Jones, Bill Berry, and Jonathan Feinstein for comments at various points in the research, and Steven Rubin and John Veresh at EPA for their help in obtaining the enforcement data. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant SES-0215426, but this study does not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

John T. Scholz is Eppes Professor of Political Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2230 ( Cheng-Lung Wang is assistant professor of political science, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117570 (


Local policy networks can aid federal agencies, but they can also coopt federal resources for unintended purposes. Our empirical study finds that effective local networks increase both enforcement and compliance rates for the Clean Water Act. We discuss the circumstances under which effective networks can transform political culture, enhancing enforcement and compliance even in conservative areas generally opposed to regulation. The modified detection-controlled estimation procedure enables us to utilize official enforcement records from 1994 to 2000 to study both enforcement and compliance.