Bureaucratic Structure and Congressional Control

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Southern Economic Journal



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The interest-group theory of government (Stigler [9], Peltzman [7]) has generated many valuable insights into the workings of the political process. Although subsequent contributions to this literature (McCormick and Tollison [6], for example) have extended the theory to explain a wide variety of government behavior, the discussion of the political process tends to be carried out in terms of the interests of groups within the polity that either demand or supply wealth, and those of the legislators who broker the transfers. Little attention is normally paid to the bureaucratic organizations that enforce and, indeed, often set the policies that the legislature wishes to put in place. Exceptions are Eckert [1], who discussed how the personal incentives of regulators affect policy choices as a function of the costs and rewards of serving on a commission versus being employed by a bureaucratic agency, and Ehrlich and Posner [2], who offered a useful theoretical exposition based on legislative decision costs of why Congress delegates programs and policies to bureaus. In addition, Faith, Leavens, and Tollison [3] and Weingast and Moran [10] have shown that the composition of important oversight committees influences bureaucratic policymaking initiatives.