Separated Powers in the United States: The Ideology of Agencies, Presidents, and Congress

Authors


Joshua D. Clinton is Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University, Commons Center, PMB0505, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville, TN 37203–5721 (josh.clinton@vanderbilt.edu). Anthony M. Bertelli is Associate Professor and the C. C. Crawford Chair in Management and Performance at the University of Southern California, RGL 201D, 650 Childs Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089 (bertelli@usc.edu). Christian R. Grose is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, 327 Von KleinSmid Center, Los Angeles, CA 90089–0044 (cgrose@usc.edu). David E. Lewis is Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University, Commons Center, PMB0505, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville, TN 37203–5721 (david.e.lewis@vanderbilt.edu). David C. Nixon is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration at the Univesity of Hawai’i, Public Policy Center, College of Social Sciences, Saunders Hall 723, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822 (dnixon@hawaii.edu).

Abstract

Government agencies service interest groups, advocate policies, provide advice to elected officials, and create and implement public policy. Scholars have advanced theories to explain the role of agencies in American politics, but efforts to test these theories are hampered by the inability to systematically measure agency preferences. We present a method for measuring agency ideology that yields ideal point estimates of individual bureaucrats and agencies that are directly comparable with those of other political actors. These estimates produce insights into the nature of the bureaucratic state and provide traction on a host of questions about American politics. We discuss what these estimates reveal about the political environment of bureaucracy and their potential for testing theories of political institutions. We demonstrate their utility by testing key propositions from Gailmard and Patty's (2007) influential model of political control and endogenous expertise development.

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