AUTHOR's NOTE: I gratefully acknowledge the help of Nolan McCarty who got me started on this project and helped me to think more rigorously about it. Chris Achen, Larry Bartels, Joshua Clinton, Fred Greenstein, Shigeo Hirano, Will Howell, George Krause, Adam Meirowitz, Tom Romer, and the Breakfast Club at Princeton University spent more time than I deserve talking about this project and teaching me how to do it better. Seminar participants at Princeton University and Harvard University provided many useful comments. The errors that remain are my own.
Staffing Alone: Unilateral Action and the Politicization of the Executive Office of the President, 1988-2004
Article first published online: 5 AUG 2005
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 35, Issue 3, pages 496–514, September 2005
How to Cite
LEWIS, D. E. (2005), Staffing Alone: Unilateral Action and the Politicization of the Executive Office of the President, 1988-2004. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 35: 496–514. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5705.2005.00261.x
- Issue published online: 5 AUG 2005
- Article first published online: 5 AUG 2005
This president's power to determine the number of appointed positions in bureaucratic agencies is an important and understudied aspect of presidential unilateral power. It can have a significant impact on policy implementation. In this article, I describe the mechanics of how presidents alter the number of political appointees and explain when presidents want to politicize. I focus on how presidents balance their competing desires for agencies to share presidential preferences but also be competent at what they do. I examine presidential staffing choices with new data on appointees in the Executive Office of the President during 1988-2004. I find some preliminary evidence that presidents add more appointees when their preferences diverge from those of an agency and that presidents are mindful of how politicization will impact agency performance. I conclude that more attention should be paid to how presidents unilaterally influence the number and depth of political appointees in the federal bureaucracy.