Chapter

The President's Personal Bureaucracy: Administrative Accountability and the Unitary Executive

in Madison's Nightmare

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226749396
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226749426 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226749426.003.0006
The President's Personal Bureaucracy: Administrative Accountability and the Unitary Executive

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This chapter investigates how Presidents Ronald Reagan through Bush 43 have sought to extend the control and how, if they and their successors prevail in this campaign, presidentialism is likely to undermine not only the rule of law, but democratic accountability more generally. The difference between the President as overseer and the President as decider can shape many a key decision. The openness of agency decision making to public scrutiny is itself a guarantee of public accountability. Under Bush 41, dysfunctional presidentialism in the form of the Council on Competitiveness was seen. The Council was not effective in increasing the correspondence between agency outcomes and popular opinion. The elevation of the President from “overseer” to “decider” simply cannot be shown to serve the public interest overall. Presidentialism promises to offer not only bad theory, but bad government.

Keywords: presidentialism; Ronald Reagan; Bush 43; public accountability; Bush 41; Council on Competitiveness; overseer; decider

Chapter.  13495 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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