Bureaucracy, confusing paperwork, and complex regulations—or what public policy scholars Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan call administrative burdens—often introduce delay and frustration into our experiences with government agencies. Administrative burdens diminish the effectiveness of public programs and can even block individuals from fundamental rights like voting. In AdministrativeBurden, Herd and Moynihan document that the administrative burdens citizens regularly encounter in their interactions with the state are not simply unintended byproducts of governance, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Because burdens affect people’s perceptions of government and often perpetuate long-standing inequalities, understanding why administrative burdens exist and how they can be reduced is essential for maintaining a healthy public sector.
Through in-depth case studies of federal programs and controversial legislation, the authors show that administrative burdens are the nuts-and-bolts of policy design. Regarding controversial issues such as voter enfranchisement or abortion rights, lawmakers often use administrative burdens to limit access to rights or services they oppose. For instance, legislators have implemented administrative burdens such as complicated registration requirements and strict voter-identification laws to suppress turnout of African American voters. Similarly, the right to an abortion is legally protected, but many states require women seeking abortions to comply with burdens such as mandatory waiting periods, ultrasounds, and scripted counseling. As Herd and Moynihan demonstrate, administrative burdens often disproportionately affect the disadvantaged who lack the resources to deal with the financial and psychological costs of navigating these obstacles.
However, policymakers have sometimes reduced administrative burdens or shifted them away from citizens and onto the government. One example is Social Security, which early administrators of the program implemented in the 1930s with the goal of minimizing burdens for beneficiaries. As a result, the take-up rate is about 100 percent because the Social Security Administration keeps track of peoples’ earnings for them, automatically calculates benefits and eligibility, and simply requires an easy online enrollment or visiting one of 1,200 field offices. Making more programs and public services operate this efficiently, the authors argue, requires adoption of a nonpartisan, evidence-based metric for determining when and how to institute administrative burdens, with a bias toward reducing them. By ensuring that the public’s interaction with government is no more onerous than it need be, policymakers and administrators can reduce inequality, boost civic engagement, and build an efficient state that works for all citizens.
Since the expansion of public programs in the 1960s, charges of bureaucratic inefficiency, unresponsiveness, and “red tape” have been rampant. The response has often been extensive reorganization in an effort to change the source of control, carry out specific missions, and to achieve greater inter-agency cooperation. Karen M. Hult examines why these restructurings often fail, through three case studies: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Design (HUD); the Minnesota Department of Energy, Planning, and Development; and the Minneapolis Community Development Agency. Hult's study assesses the usefulness of mergers and reorganizations as a policy tool, and offers a valuable contribution to the study of public management and organization design.
Who determines the fuel standards for our cars? What about whether Plan B, the morning-after pill, is sold at the local pharmacy? Many people assume such important and controversial policy decisions originate in the halls of Congress. But the choreographed actions of Congress and the president account for only a small portion of the laws created in the United States. By some estimates, more than ninety percent of law is created by administrative rules issued by federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, where unelected bureaucrats with particular policy goals and preferences respond to the incentives created by a complex, procedure-bound rulemaking process.
With Bending the Rules, Rachel Augustine Potter shows that rulemaking is not the rote administrative activity it is commonly imagined to be but rather an intensely political activity in its own right. Because rulemaking occurs in a separation of powers system, bureaucrats are not free to implement their preferred policies unimpeded: the president, Congress, and the courts can all get involved in the process, often at the bidding of affected interest groups. However, rather than capitulating to demands, bureaucrats routinely employ “procedural politicking,” using their deep knowledge of the process to strategically insulate their proposals from political scrutiny and interference. Tracing the rulemaking process from when an agency first begins working on a rule to when it completes that regulatory action, Potter shows how bureaucrats use procedures to resist interference from Congress, the President, and the courts at each stage of the process. This exercise reveals that unelected bureaucrats wield considerable influence over the direction of public policy in the United States.
In Bring Back the Bureaucrats, John J. DiIulio Jr., one of America’s most respected political scientists and an adviser to presidents in both parties, summons the facts and statistics to show us how America’s big government actually works and why reforms that include adding a million more people to the federal workforce by 2035 might actually help to slow government’s growth while improving its performance.
Starting from the underreported reality that the size of the federal workforce hasn’t increased since the early 1960s even though the federal budget has skyrocketed and the number of federal programs has ballooned, Bring Back the Bureaucrats tells us what our elected leaders won’t: there simply are not enough federal workers to do work that’s critical to our democracy.
Government in America, DiIulio reveals, is Leviathan by Proxy, a grotesque form of debt-financed big government that guarantees bad government:
• Washington relies on state and local governments, for-profit firms, and nonprofit organizations to implement federal policies and programs. Big-city mayors, defense industry contractors, nonprofit executives and other federal proxies lobby incessantly for more federal spending.
• The proxy system chokes on chores as distinct as cleaning up toxic waste sites, caring for hospitalized veterans, collecting taxes, handling plutonium, and policing more than $100 billion a year in “improper payments.”
• The lack of enough competent, well-trained federal civil servants figured in the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina and in the troubled launch of Obamacare “health exchanges,” Bring Back the Bureaucrats is further distinguished by the presence of E. J. Dionne Jr. and Charles Murray, two of the most astute voices from the political left and right, respectively, who offer their candid responses to DiIulio at the end of the book.
Before 1946 the congressional role in public administration had been limited to authorization, funding, and review of federal administrative operations, which had grown rapidly as a result of the New Deal and the Second World War. But in passing the Administrative Procedure Act and the Legislative Reorganization Act that pivotal year, Congress self-consciously created for itself a comprehensive role in public administration. Reluctant to delegate legislative authority to federal agencies, Congress decided to treat the agencies as extensions of itself and established a framework for comprehensive regulation of the agencies' procedures. Additionally, Congress reorganized itself so it could provide continuous supervision of federal agencies.
Rosenbloom shows how these 1946 changes in the congressional role in public administration laid the groundwork for future major legislative acts, including the Freedom of Information Act (1966), Privacy Act (1974), Government in the Sunshine Act (1976), Paperwork Reduction Acts (1980, 1995), Chief Financial Officers Act (1990), and Small Business Regulatory Fairness Enforcement Act (1996). Each of these acts, and many others, has contributed to the legislative-centered public administration that Congress has formed over the past 50 years.
This first book-length study of the subject provides a comprehensive explanation of the institutional interests, values, and logic behind the contemporary role of Congress in federal administration and attempts to move the public administration field beyond condemning legislative "micromanagement" to understanding why Congress values it.
2001 Louis Brownlow Award from the National Academy of Public Administration
"Accountability" is a watchword of our era. Dissatisfaction with a range of public and private institutions is widespread and often expressed in strong critical rhetoric. The reasons for these views are varied and difficult to translate into concrete action, but this hasn't deterred governments and nongovernmental organizations from putting into place formal processes for determining whether their own and others' goals have been achieved and problems with performance have been avoided.
In this thought-provoking book, government and public administration scholar Beryl Radin takes on many of the assumptions of the performance movement, arguing that evaluation relies too often on simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions that are not always effective for dynamic organizations. Drawing on a wide range of ideas, including theories of intelligence and modes of thought, assumptions about numbers and information, and the nature of professionalism, Radin sheds light on the hidden complexities of creating standards to evaluate performance. She illustrates these problems by discussing a range of program areas, including health efforts as well as the education program, "No Child Left Behind."
Throughout, the author devotes particular attention to concerns about government standards, from accounting for issues of equity to allowing for complicated intergovernmental relationships and fragmentation of powers. She explores in detail how recent performance measurement efforts in the U.S. government have fared, and analyzes efforts by nongovernmental organizations both inside and outside of the United States to impose standards of integrity and equity on their governments. The examination concludes with alternative assumptions and lessons for those embarking on performance measurement activities.
During China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao Zedong’s "rustication program" resettled 17 million urban youths, known as "sent downs," to the countryside for manual labor and socialist reeducation. This book, the most comprehensive study of the program to be published in either English or Chinese to date, examines the mechanisms and dynamics of state craft in China, from the rustication program’s inception in 1968 to its official termination in 1980 and actual completion in the 1990s.
Rustication, in the ideology of Mao's peasant-based revolution, formed a critical component of the Cultural Revolution's larger attack on bureaucrats, capitalists, the intelligentsia, and "degenerative" urban life. This book assesses the program’s origins, development, organization, implementation, performance, and public administrative consequences. It was the defining experience for many Chinese born between 1949 and 1962, and many of China's contemporary leaders went through the rustication program.
The author explains the lasting impact of the rustication program on China's contemporary administrative culture, for example, showing how and why bureaucracy persisted and even grew stronger during the wrenching chaos of the Cultural Revolution. She also focuses on the special difficulties female sent-downs faced in terms of work, pressures to marry local peasants, and sexual harassment, predation, and violence. The author’s parents were both sent downs, and she was able to interview over fifty former sent downs from around the country, something never previously accomplished.
China's Sent-Down Generation demonstrates the rustication program’s profound long-term consequences for China's bureaucracy, for the spread of corruption, and for the families traumatized by this authoritarian social experiment. The book will appeal to academics, graduate and undergraduate students in public administration and China studies programs, and individuals who are interested in China’s Cultural Revolution era.
In the United States cases involving the interpretation of laws dealing with international trade are heard by a specialized court, the Court of International Trade, and on appeal by a specialized appellate court, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In a groundbreaking study, Isaac Unah studies these courts to explore the way specialized courts work and how they fit into the federal court system. We know little about why specialized courts are created and how their role in interpreting law might differ from the role played by the courts of general jurisdiction. These courts play an important role in regulating agencies that affect many aspects of our lives, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Patent Office, and agencies that administer trade laws. The author considers the way these courts relate to the work of the agencies whose cases must always come to these courts. And he offers fresh insights into the differences between specialized courts and courts of general jurisdiction.
This book will be of interest to scholars studying the judiciary, bureaucracies, and international trade law and administration.
Isaac Unah is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina.
In this illuminating and provocative study, Stillman provides a new understanding of the foundation of the American state.
Whether renewing a driver's license, traveling on an airplane, or just watching in fascination as a robot probes Mars, we all participate in the everyday workings of the modern administrative state. As Stillman demonstrates in this study, however, we have not, until now, fully investigated or appreciated this administrative stateÕs origins or its evolution into the entity that so affects our lives today.
Stillman reveals that this modern enterprise emerged from a complex foundation of ideas and ideals rather than as a result of a simple, rational plan or cataclysmic event, as previously contended. In fact, he finds that the basis for our current administrative state lies in the lives of the seven individuals who, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, invented its various elements.
Stillman also finds that although they lived at different times, these seven founders-George William Curtis, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Emory Upton, Jane Addams, Frederick W. Taylor, Richard Childs, and Louis Brownlow-had much in common: all were products of intensely Protestant, small-town America, and all were motivated by strong moral idealism. Indeed, Stillman finds that state making in the United States has been a continuation of the Protestant goal to "protest and purify."
Some names are more recognizable than others, but all, through remarkable moral fervor and exceptional leadership skills, invented the administrative practices and procedures so familiar today.
Efficiency. Innovation. Results. Accountability. These, advocates claim, are the fruits of performance management. In recent decades government organizations have eagerly embraced the performance model—but the rush to reform has not delivered as promised.
Drawing on research from state and federal levels, Moynihan illustrates how governments have emphasized some aspects of performance management—such as building measurement systems to acquire more performance data—but have neglected wider organizational change that would facilitate the use of such information. In his analysis of why and how governments in the United States have made the move to performance systems, Moynihan identifies agency leadership, culture, and resources as keys to better implementation, goal-based learning, and improved outcomes.
How do governments use the performance information generated under performance systems? Moynihan develops a model of interactive dialogue to highlight how performance data, which promised to optimize decision making and policy change for the public's benefit, has often been used selectively to serve the interests of particular agencies and individuals, undermining attempts at interagency problem solving and reform.
A valuable resource for public administration scholars and administrators, The Dynamics of Performance Management offers fresh insight into how government organizations can better achieve their public service goals.
Proposals for reform have dotted the federal management landscape in the United States for more than 50 years. Yet these efforts by public management professionals have frequently failed to produce lasting results. In her new book, Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions, renowned public administration scholar Beryl A. Radin reveals what may lie behind the failure of so many efforts at government management reform.
To spur new thinking about this problem, Radin examines three basic sets of contradictions between the strategies of the reformers and the reality of the US federal system: contradictions in the shared powers structure, contradictions in values, and contradictions between politics and administration. She then explores six types of reform efforts and the core beliefs that guided them. The six reform areas are contracting out, personnel policy, agency reorganization, budgeting, federalism policies and procedures, and performance management. The book shows how too often these prescriptions for reform have tried to apply techniques from the private sector or a parliamentary system that do not transfer well to the structure of the US federal system and its democratic and political traditions.
Mindful of the ineffectiveness of a “one-size-fits–all” approach, Radin does not propose a single path for reform, but calls instead for a truly honest assessment of past efforts as today’s reformers design a new conceptual and strategic roadmap for the future.
A love for nature and the forest drew Tomas Koontz to develop a keen interest in the workings of public forest management and forest policy. Beyond policy, however, this book is also about the very human issues of federalism, decentralization of control over public lands, citizen participation, and how agency policies, both state and federal, are formulated and exercised.
Federalism in the Forest is the first book to examine and compare public policy performance across both state and national levels, explaining why state agencies excel at economic outputs and profitability, the management of land with state income in mind-while national agencies are stronger in citizen participation and the inarguably important role of environmental protection. Instead of focusing on historical development of federal-state roles or on state officials as affected by national polices, Koontz shows how officials, when given authority, both make and implement policy at the state versus the national level. Although arguments fly about the decentralization of public lands-most often based on ideology-Koontz offers empirical evidence that demonstrates not only that devolution matters, but how.
Every president needs a decisionmaking system that harnesses the full capabilities and accumulated wisdom of the U.S. government and the nation’s many stakeholders. This Perspective analyzes a range of management challenges in the national security system and presents recommendations for strengthening U.S. decisionmaking and oversight of policy implementation.
Innovating with Integrity presents a comprehensive portrait of the local heroes—front-line public servants and middle managers—who are reinventing state and local government, and it offers practical recommendations for innovating successfully.
Based on a study of more than 200 successful government innovations, this book is the first large-scale, systematic analysis of innovation in American government. Sandford Borins identifies the components of integrity that he finds in successful innovators, including the intellectual discipline to plan rigorously and to establish measurable goals; the ability to collaborate with others and accommodate criticism; and a willingness to mobilize both the private sector and the community. In addition to analyzing the common traits driving new initiatives, Borins shows the distinctive differences among six areas of innovation: information technology, organizational redesign, environmental and energy management, policing and community development, social services, and education. This trenchant analysis of what initiatives actually work and why contributes to both the practice and theory of public management. Its practical advice will be especially valuable for front-line government workers, public managers, union leaders, agency heads, politicians, and all concerned with reforming government.
In 1978, determined to combat fraud, waste, and abuse in government programs, Congress overwhelmingly approved the creation of special Offices of Inspectors-General (OIGs) in many federal departments. Moore and Gates here provide the first evaluation of this important institutional innovation. Clearly and objectively, they examine the powerful but often imprecisely defined concepts—wastefulness, accountability, performance—that underlie the OIG mandate. Their study conveys a realistic sense of how these offices operate and how their impact is affected by the changing dynamics of politics and personality. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Perspectives Series
Adrian Vermeule Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress KF5425.V47 2016 | Dewey Decimal 342.7306
Adrian Vermeule argues that the arc of law has bent steadily toward deference to the administrative state, which has greater democratic legitimacy and technical competence to confront issues such as climate change, terrorism, and biotechnology. The state did not shove lawyers and judges out of the way; they moved freely to the margins of power.
Reasonable people disagree about the reach of the federal government, but there is near-universal consensus that it should protect us from such dangers as bacteria-infested food, harmful drugs, toxic pollution, crumbling bridges, and unsafe toys. And yet, the agencies that shoulder these responsibilities are in shambles; if they continue to decline, lives will be lost and natural resources will be squandered. In this timely book, Rena Steinzor and Sidney Shapiro take a hard look at the tangled web of problems that have led to this dire state of affairs.
It turns out that the agencies are not primarily to blame and that regulatory failure actually stems from a host of overlooked causes. Steinzor and Shapiro discover that unrelenting funding cuts, a breakdown of the legislative process, an increase in the number of political appointees, a concurrent loss of experienced personnel, chaotic White House oversight, and ceaseless political attacks on the bureaucracy all have contributed to the broken system. But while the news is troubling, the authors also propose a host of reforms, including a new model for measuring the success of the agencies and a revitalization of the civil service. The People’s Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public is an urgent and compelling appeal to renew America’s best traditions of public service.
Leading scholars present the most complete, as well as the most advanced,
treatment of public management reform and innovation available.
The subject of reform in the public sector is not new;
indeed, its latest rubric, reinventing government, has become good politics.
Still, as the contributors ask in this volume, is good politics necessarily
Given the growing desire to reinvent government, there
are hard questions to be asked: Is the private sector market model suitable
and effective when applied to reforming public and governmental organizations?
What are the major political forces affecting reform efforts in public
management? How is public management reform accomplished in a constitutional
democratic government? How do the values of responsiveness, professionalism,
and managerial excellence shape current public management reforms? In this
volume, editors H. George Frederickson and Jocelyn M. Johnston bring together
scholars with a shared interest in empirical research to confront head-on
the toughest questions public managers face in their efforts to meet the
demands of reform and innovation.
Throughout the book, the authors consider the bureaucratic
resistance that results when downsizing and reinvention are undertaken
simultaneously, the dilemma public managers face when elected executives
set a reform agenda that runs counter to the law, and the mistaken belief
that improved management can remedy flawed policy.
This timely and well-researched study describes for the first tim ethe astonishing acquiecence of executive agency officials, members of Congress, and federal judges to Ronald Regan's assertion of extraordinary new presidential power over the federal regulatory process--the controversial Executive Order 12291.
From Harry Truman through Jimy Carter, chief executives complained that federal bureaucrats disregarded their policy preferences. presidential influence over regulatory rule making was limited: congressional committees and interest groups commanded more attention. Then in February 1981 Ronal regan abruptly departed from tradition by ordering that regulatory agencies must submit proposed guidelines for Office of Management and Budget approval.
Barry D. friedman describes how the executive agencies and Congress responded warily and with skepticism, yet allowed the changes to remain; the judiciary was also willing to retreat from time-honored precedents that had preserved agency prerogative and now accorded due respect to the revolutionary Regan reform initiatives. Institutions that competed for leverage in the system continued to exercise restraint in their mutual relations because they recognized taht all benefitted from the others' viability.
This book shows that conventional political science theories and models are now obsolete because of the eruption of presidential control into bureaucratic affairs. new review procedures have restructured relations between the president and the agencies and among the government's three branches. because of Regan's radical initiative, President Bill Clinton and his successors will sit at the bargaining table when regulation policy is developed in Washington, and political theorists will have to work from a new conception of presidential prerogative.
"Responsive Democracy is a pioneering contribution to the political analysis of administrative law in East Asia. Both political scientists and legal academics will greatly benefit from the author's in-depth analysis of the intersection between presidential power and administrative law in the contrasting cases of South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines."
---Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University Law School
"Baum's book is a very significant contribution because it focuses on a part of the world that has often been neglected in studies of democratization. It focuses attention on the nuts and bolts of what we mean by democratic consolidation and responsiveness. Indeed, if more political science were written with this clarity, we would all enjoy reading the literature much more!"
---Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University
Under what conditions is a newly democratic government likely to increase transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to its citizens? What incentives might there be for bureaucrats, including those appointed by a previously authoritarian government, to carry out the wishes of an emerging democratic regime? Responsive Democracy addresses an important problem in democratic transition and consolidation: the ability of the chief executive to control the state bureaucracy.
Using three well-chosen case studies---the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan---Jeeyang Rhee Baum explores the causes and consequences of codifying rules and procedures in a newly democratic government. In the Philippines, a president facing opposition has the option of appointing and dismissing officials at will and, therefore, has no need for administrative procedure acts. However, in South Korea and Taiwan, presidents employ such legislation to rein in recalcitrant government agencies, and, as a consequence, increase transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. Moreover, as Baum demonstrates by drawing upon surveys conducted both before and after implementation, administrative procedural reforms in South Korea and Taiwan improved public confidence in and attitudes toward democratic institutions.
Jeeyang Rhee Baum is a Research Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Stories of government management failures often make the headlines, but quietly much gets done as well. What makes the difference? Ira Goldstein offers wisdom about how to lead and succeed in the federal realm, even during periods when the political climate is intensely negative, based on his decades of experience as a senior executive at two major government consulting firms and as a member of the US federal government's Senior Executive Service.
The Federal Management Playbook coaches the importance of always keeping four key concepts in mind when planning for success: goals, stakeholders, resources, and time frames. Its chapters address how to effectively motivate government employees, pick the right technologies, communicate and negotiate with powerful stakeholders, manage risks, get value from contractors, foster innovation, and more. Goldstein makes lessons easy to apply by breaking each chapter’s plans into three strategic phases: create an offensive strategy, execute your plan effectively, and play a smart defense. Additional tips describe how career civil servants and political appointees can get the most from one another, advise consultants on providing value to government, and help everyone better manage ever-present oversight.
The Federal Management Playbook is a must-read for anyone working in the government realm and for students who aspire to public service.
Recent breakdowns in American national security have exposed the weaknesses of the nation’s vast overlapping security and foreign policy bureaucracy and the often dysfunctional interagency process. In the literature of national security studies, however, surprisingly little attention is given to the specific dynamics or underlying organizational cultures that often drive the bureaucratic politics of U.S. security policy.
The National Security Enterprise offers a broad overview and analysis of the many government agencies involved in national security issues, the interagency process, Congressional checks and balances, and the influence of private sector organizations. The chapters cover the National Security Council, the Departments of Defense and State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget. The book also focuses on the roles of Congress, the Supreme Court, and outside players in the national security process like the media, think tanks, and lobbyists. Each chapter details the organizational culture and personality of these institutions so that readers can better understand the mindsets that drive these organizations and their roles in the policy process.
Many of the contributors to this volume are long-time practitioners who have spent most of their careers working for these organizations. As such, they offer unique insights into how diplomats, military officers, civilian analysts, spies, and law enforcement officials are distinct breeds of policymakers and political actors. To illustrate how different agencies can behave in the face of a common challenge, contributors reflect in detail on their respective agency’s behavior during the Iraq War.
This impressive volume is suitable for academic studies at both the undergraduate and graduate level; ideal for U.S. government, military, and national security training programs; and useful for practitioners and specialists in national security studies.
This second edition of The National Security Enterprise provides practitioners’ insights into the operation, missions, and organizational cultures of the principal national security agencies and other institutions that shape the US national security decision-making process. Unlike some textbooks on American foreign policy, it offers analysis from insiders who have worked at the National Security Council, the State and Defense Departments, the intelligence community, and the other critical government entities. The book explains how organizational missions and cultures create the labyrinth in which a coherent national security policy must be fashioned. Understanding and appreciating these organizations and their cultures is essential for formulating and implementing it. Taking into account the changes introduced by the Obama administration, the second edition includes four new or entirely revised chapters (Congress, Department of Homeland Security, Treasury, and USAID) and updates to the text throughout. It covers changes instituted since the first edition was published in 2011, implications of the government campaign to prosecute leaks, and lessons learned from more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. This up-to-date book will appeal to students of US national security and foreign policy as well as career policymakers.
One of the central questions of political science has been whether politicians control the bureaucracy, or whether the bureaucracy possesses independent authority from democratic institutions of government. Relying on advanced statistical techniques and case studies, George Krause argues instead for a dynamic system of influence—one allowing for two-way interaction among the president, congress, and bureaucratic agencies. Krause argues that politicians and those responsible for implementing policy respond not only to each other, but also to events and conditions within each government institution as well as to the larger policy environment. His analysis and conclusions will challenge conventional theoretical and empirical wisdom in the field of administrative politics and public bureaucracy.
The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is the United States’s regulatory overseer. In Valuing Life, Cass R. Sunstein draws on his firsthand experience as the Administrator of OIRA from 2009 to 2012 to argue that we can humanize regulation—and save lives in the process.
As OIRA Administrator, Sunstein helped oversee regulation in a broad variety of areas, including highway safety, health care, homeland security, immigration, energy, environmental protection, and education. This background allows him to describe OIRA and how it works—and how it can work better—from an on-the-ground perspective. Using real-world examples, many of them drawn from today’s headlines, Sunstein makes a compelling case for improving cost-benefit analysis, a longtime cornerstone of regulatory decision-making, and for taking account of variables that are hard to quantify, such as dignity and personal privacy. He also shows how regulatory decisions about health, safety, and life itself can benefit from taking into account behavioral and psychological research, including new findings about what scares us, and what does not. By better accounting for people’s fallibility, Sunstein argues, we can create regulation that is simultaneously more human and more likely to achieve its goals.
In this highly readable synthesis of insights from law, policy, economics, and psychology, Sunstein breaks down the intricacies of the regulatory system and offers a new way of thinking about regulation that incorporates human dignity– and an insistent focus on the consequences of our choices.