APPAM Panel Paper: Presidentially Directed Policy Change

Editor’s Note: The complete paper “Presidentially Directed Policy Change” is available here.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Simon Haeder, West Virginia University and Susan Webb Yackee, University of Wisconsin
U.S. presidents—working through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—influence administrative agencies by directing agencies to modify their regulatory policy proposals before finalization. We identify two competing hypotheses from the literature to explain this presidential intervention. First, some scholars hypothesize that presidents are more likely to change proposals when the submitting agency’s political ideology differs from the president’s. Second, others argue that presidents are more likely to correct ideologically extreme agencies of either political ideology. Neither claim has been adequately investigated. We study almost 1,500 final regulations reviewed by OIRA between 2005 and 2011. In the end, neither hypothesis garners support. Instead, we demonstrate that regulations proposed by liberally-oriented agencies are more likely to be changed—and the content of the rules changed to a greater degree—than conservative agencies. These results provide suggestive support for a provocative third hypothesis: presidentially-directed deregulation via OIRA review.

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