Journal Article

Agency Structure and the Distribution of Federal Spending

Sarah E. Anderson and Matthew Potoski

in Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Published on behalf of The Public Management Research Association

Volume 26, issue 3, pages 461-474
Published in print July 2016 | ISSN: 1053-1858
Published online February 2016 | e-ISSN: 1477-9803 | DOI:
Agency Structure and the Distribution of Federal Spending

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Agency structure can shape agency independence in two ways. First, it can insulate agencies from policy demands from political overseers in Congress and the executive branch. Second, agency structure can shape the range of available options from which agencies can select policy. In this article, we present a novel empirical approach that evaluates both types of effects by modeling the mean and variance of agencies’ policy decisions. Analyses of US distributive program spending across 10 congresses and 68 federal agencies show that agencies structured for independence enjoy a broader range of options from which to implement policy but are no less responsive to spending demands from members of Congress and the president.

Journal Article.  9932 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Administration

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