Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 1 > Issue 1

Providing Political Guidance? Agency Politicization and "As If" Policymaking

Rachel Augustine Potter, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, USA,
Suggested Citation
Rachel Augustine Potter (2020), "Providing Political Guidance? Agency Politicization and "As If" Policymaking", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 1: No. 1, pp 1-26.

Publication Date: 10 Mar 2020
© 2020 R. A. Potter
Bureaucracy,  Regulation,  Executive politics,  Political economy,  Public policy,  Regulation


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In this article:
The Guidance Dilemma 
Political Pressure for Guidance 
Data and Methods 


Government agencies routinely make policies that affect the lives of citizens. I explore agency policymaking via guidance: sub-regulatory policies that can be issued quickly and quietly. Although guidance is not legally binding on external parties, agencies often treat it as if it were. This "as if" nature invites political opportunism, wherein guidance is exploited when agencies are politicized through presidential appointments. I demonstrate this argument empirically using a new dataset that evaluates agency guidance production at 29 agencies over a 10-year period. The results show that agencies are more likely to rely on the "quick fix" offered by guidance when they are highly politicized, and that this effect is exacerbated among the most significant forms of guidance. However, certain institutions like increased proceduralization can temper the bias toward political guidance. While often overlooked, the results suggest that guidance is an important venue for political maneuvering.



Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 1 Special issue - The Political Economy of Executive Politics
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.