Effective governmental responses to disasters rely in part on the expertise and skills of government workers. Building and retaining expertise within the government often requires granting unelected civil servants discretion over policy-relevant decisions. We present a simple model of policy-making that captures the trade-offs faced by a policy-maker when considering implementing a policy that may reduce the level of expertise within the government in the shadow of a potential disaster in the future. The model illustrates how policy motivations of an elected government might lead to governmental failure in a response to a future disaster. The model predicts that governmental failures will be more likely when the policy-maker has relatively extreme preferences, and that the failures will tend to occur in agencies where the experts' policy preferences are opposed to those of the policy-maker.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 2, Issue 1 Special issue - The Political Economy of Pandemics, Part II
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