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A Formal Model of the Politics of Delegation in a Separation of Powers System

Craig Volden
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 2002), pp. 111-133
DOI: 10.2307/3088417
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3088417
Page Count: 23
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A Formal Model of the Politics of Delegation in a Separation of Powers System
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Abstract

Political economists have modeled attempts by politicians to form and empower bureaucracies. Some of these models demonstrate that delegation is greater under unified government. Scholars might expect that discretion would thus decline under divided government. However, legislators who attempt to limit executive agency discretion under divided government face the threat or use of an executive veto. This article expands previous formal models of discretion to include status quo policies and levels of discretion, various agency preferences, and the possibility of an executive veto, in order to determine the level of bureaucratic discretion chosen in a separation of powers system. Three main findings emerge: (1) given certain status quo conditions and preference arrangements, discretion can be increased or decreased under either divided or unified government; (2) executive agencies are more likely to receive discretion under unified government, but independent agencies are more likely to receive discretion under divided government; and (3) there exists an asymmetry between politicians' ability to expand bureaucratic discretion and their ability to restrict discretion.

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