Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar
Abstract: Presidents rely on their political appointees to negotiate interactions with the bureaucracy on their behalf. Appointees often know more about their organizations than the president and, therefore, may be better positioned to generate bureaucratic support for the president's agenda. Yet, bureaucratic cooperation may be easier for appointees to sustain the more policy reflects the views of careerists tasked with implementation. I consider a model in which an appointee dictates a policy that a bureaucrat exerts effort to implement. The president is uncertain of both her appointee's management skill and the difficulty of the management problem her appointee faces. Instead, the president must infer the appointee's skill by observing his policy choice and whether implementation was successful. In equilibrium, both talented and weak appointees may give additional policy concessions to bureaucrats to ensure bureaucratic cooperation and improve their reputation with the president. This incentive exists even when the appointee shares the president's policy preferences.