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Melinda Ritchie, University of California, Riverside
"The Bureaucracy: Congress' Backdoor to Policy Influence"
Abstract: The Bureaucracy: Congress' Backdoor to Policy Influence reveals how members of Congress exploit the federal bureaucracy in order to influence public policy outside of the formal legislative process and beyond the public eye. While scholars, journalists, and the public primarily focus on lawmaking within Congress, savvy legislators take advantage of the bureaucracy’s broad discretion over policy implementation to advance their own objectives. The book employs novel data and records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to show how lawmakers use their informal channels of direct communication with federal agencies to evade constraints in the legislative process and within their constituencies. The FOIA documents include records of over 100,000 letters, emails, phone calls, and meetings between members of Congress and ten cabinet departments. This book presents a shift in our understanding of the separation of powers by revealing how members of Congress take advantage of the bureaucracy in order to circumvent the collective authority of Congress and the formal lawmaking process established in the Constitution.
The American Politics Speaker Series (APSS) invites speakers from outside Harvard to present research in American politics. Sponsored by the Center for American Political Studies, the Harvard Department of Government, and Harvard Kennedy School, the series is co-organized by Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Jon Rogowski, and Ben Schneer.