IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

A Test of the Political Control of Bureaucracies Under Asymmetric Information


  • Andrew B. Whitford

    (Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia, 204 Baldwin Hall, Athens, GA 306021615, USA,


How does the informational role of interest groups interact with institutions when politicians seek to control the bureaucracy? In 1992, Banks and Weingast argued that bureaucrats hold an informational advantage vis-à -vis political principals concerning policy-relevant variables, and that when it is prohibitively costly to audit, the agency may over- or understate the extent of a public problem. This is less likely to happen if there is a low-cost monitoring technology and if interest groups can monitor the agency's choices. I test this hypothesis using data on bureaucratic statements that estimate the importance of a number of hazardous waste problems from a group of state-level environmental agencies. The results provide evidence for the Banks—Weingast hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew B. Whitford, 2008. "A Test of the Political Control of Bureaucracies Under Asymmetric Information," Rationality and Society, , vol. 20(4), pages 445-470, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:20:y:2008:i:4:p:445-470

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:20:y:2008:i:4:p:445-470. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.