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Runaway Bureaucracies or Congressional Control?: Water Pollution Policies in the American States.

Hoornbeek, John A. (2004) Runaway Bureaucracies or Congressional Control?: Water Pollution Policies in the American States. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Over the last several decades, there has been persistent scholarly controversy concerning Congress's influence on administrative decision-making. Scholars in the 1970's argued that the bureaucracy was out of control and not subject to ongoing Congressional influence, while in more recent years scholars using principal-agent theories have argued that Congressional control over administrative decision-making is common. This work suggests that both of these arguments have neglected the importance of ongoing statutory influence on policymaking at the federal and state levels, and - in so doing - have failed to emphasize an important source of Congressional influence on US domestic policy. This work assesses ongoing statutory influence on administrative decision-making in US water pollution control policy. It assesses federal and state compliance with Congress's statutory instructions, and focuses on policymaking at the state level where the rubber actually meets the road in water pollution control and many other areas of American domestic policy.Drawing evidence from historical and cross-sectional analyses of the water pollution policymaking process, the argument here is that Congress guides administrative policymaking, ex ante, through the statutory directions it provides for policy implementation - even in policy areas like water pollution control that rely heavily on intergovernmental administration. However, this guiding function is imperfect, as substantive policy outputs may stray from Congress's statutory directions as a result of factors that come into play during the implementation process. These factors include the nature and variability of directions provided by political leaders at the federal level, state level policy influences, and variable levels of federal oversight. The analyses here also point out that the relative strength of these influences at the state level varies depending on the policy output being considered, and these outputs are affected in fundamental ways by statutory design. Congress, it is suggested here, has substantial long-term influence on bureaucratic policy outputs, and statutory design is a fundamental mechanism through which this influence is realized. This conclusion, in turn, suggests a need for increased attention to Congressional policy design in water pollution control and other policy areas.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hoornbeek, John
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPeters, B Guybgpeters@pitt.eduBGPETERS
Committee MemberSbragia, Albertasbragia@pitt.eduSBRAGIA
Committee MemberCarman, Christophercarman@pitt.eduCARMAN
Committee MemberRingquist,
Committee MemberHansen, Susan Bsbhansen@pitt.eduSBHANSEN
Date: 24 June 2004
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 26 March 2004
Approval Date: 24 June 2004
Submission Date: 3 May 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Faculty of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clean Water Act; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); federal preemption; federalism; intergovernmental relations; policy design; policy implementation; public administration; regulation; state policymaking; water pollution policy; environmental history; environmental policy
Other ID:, etd-05032004-105310
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:43
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:43


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