The Contribution of Political Scientists to the Evolution of Centralized Regulatory Review

An examination of the literature on the evolution of centralized regulatory review in the White House Office of Management and Budget will reveal that the legal community dominates the debate. Surprisingly considerably less attention is given to the aforementioned subject matter by members of the political science community notwithstanding the fact that generally, but not always, influencing rulemaking is a far more permanent mechanism for affecting the political system than is the publication of learned journal articles.

Fortunately, the sparsity of articles written by political scientists is changing. A case in point is the articles prepared by Professor Andrew Rudalevige of Bowdoin College and so presented at an event sponsored by the Hoover Institution.

In Beyond Structure And Process: The Early Institulization Of Regulatory Review and a subsequent article Regulation Beyond Structure and Process he debunks the popular view that centralized regulatory review started simply by President Reagan signing an Executive Order and magically the entire Executive Branch followed in lock step to put into place the most important institutional feature of the regulatory state. Professor Rudalevige recognizes the enormous, multi-decade state building that preceded the signing of the aforementioned Executive Order including the formative work to apply benefit-cost analysis to rulemaking led by a cadre of seasoned career employees who paid their dues.

As centralized regulatory review enters its second fifty-year span of operation the lesson learned is that lasting change occurs through the building of institutions by policy entrepreneurs lead in part by career federal employees, a lesson that should be appreciated by all Administrations.

 

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