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Managing Delegation Ex Ante: Using Law to Steer Administrative Agencies

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  • Spence, David B
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    Abstract

    This work addresses the question of how, and how effectively, elected politicians can exert ex ante influence over the policy choices of regulatory agencies. In order to test the hypothesis that politicians can use choices about the agency's structure and process to influence subsequent agency decisions, I analyze two sets of decisions made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in its hydroelectric licensing program during the 1960-90 time period. I find, among other things, that (1) some (but not all) of the tools of ex ante political control were used to effect noticeable changes in the content of FERC decisions over time; (2) among the so-called structural controls, those that were designed to influence agency preferences appear to have exerted the most significant and lasting effects; (3) among the so-called procedural controls, those that were designed to increase the transaction costs of making particular decisions appear to have been more effective than those that merely increased the transaction costs of decision making generally; and (4) despite these effects, the FERC appears to have resisted political control, sometimes successfully, during the study period. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 28 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 413-59

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:28:y:1999:i:2:p:413-59

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    Cited by:
    1. Ganghof, Steffen & Manow, Philip, 2005. "Mechanismen der Politik: Strategische Interaktion im deutschen Regierungssystem," Schriften aus dem Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung Köln, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, volume 54, number 54.
    2. George A. Krause & David E. Lewis & James W. Douglas, 2013. "Politics Can Limit Policy Opportunism in Fiscal Institutions: Evidence from Official General Fund Revenue Forecasts in the American States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(2), pages 271-295, 03.
    3. Gowan, Charles & Stephenson, Kurt & Shabman, Leonard, 2006. "The role of ecosystem valuation in environmental decision making: Hydropower relicensing and dam removal on the Elwha River," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 508-523, April.
    4. Stephenson, Kurt & Shabman, Leonard A., 2008. "The Contribution of Nonmarket Valuation to Policy: The Case of Nonfederal Hydropower Relicensing," 2008 Annual Meeting, February 2-6, 2008, Dallas, Texas 6823, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

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