Getting Dirty-Minded: Implementing Presidential Policy Agendas Administratively


Robert F. Durant is a professor of public administration and policy at American University. His book, The Administrative Presidency Revisited: Public Lands, the BLM, and the Reagan Revolution, received the Gladys M. Kammerer Award from the American Political Science Association as the best book published on U.S. national policy. His most recent book is The Greening of the U.S. Military: Environmental Policy, National Security, and Organizational Change (Georgetown University Press, 2007). He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.


With polarization in Congress persistent, with staggering issues and international threats facing the nation, and with fiscal stress an enduring fact of life, presidents have for decades turned to the tools of the administrative presidency to advance and implement their policy agendas. As the Barack Obama administration completed its first six months in office amid great challenges and hopes, the president was no exception in counting on his appointees to wield the tools of the administrative presidency to advance his protean policy agenda for America. This essay offers 10 research-based lessons for new appointees charged with advancing presidential agendas administratively to ponder as they do so.