Alex Acs, Politics

Statutory Selection by Regulatory Agencies: Political Control in Bureaucracies

Tue, 10/15/2013
Noon, 438 Robertson Hall
Event Category: 
Graduate Students

Please join us on Tuesday, October 15, for a practice job talk with Alex Acs, Ph.D. candidate in Politics, to discuss "Statutory Selection by Regulatory Agencies: Political Control in Bureaucracies."

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.A

Abstract: "A critical, though under explored, decision that regulatory agencies make is their choice of statutes to authorize new rulemaking activity. In a standard positivist framework, strategic agencies should be expected to regulate under statutes of varying partisan origins in order to satisfy the ideological preferences of their political principals---conservative principals, for example, may prefer regulation authorized by statutes passed by conservative coalitions. In this paper, I demonstrate that regulatory agencies can, in theory, choose different statutes to prioritize and I present evidence that this choice appears to be responsive to party control of political institutions. I first develop a theory to demonstrate why agency rulemaking in a two-party system tends to be disproportionately biased toward the preferences of the low-demand (conservative) party. Consistent with the theory, I show evidence that rulemaking under Republican presidential administrations and during Republican control of Congress coincides with agencies initiating and finalizing rules that draw more heavily from conservative statutes, or those statutes that were passed with more Republican support. The results have implications for the understanding of political control over agency rulemaking, which to date have largely focused on the implicit threat of new legislation, not on unilateral control by a legislature or executive."

Alex Acs is a graduate student in the Department of Politics at Princeton. His research is largely focused on the political economy of regulation and the administrative state in American politics. His dissertation examines the ways in which political actors influence the federal rule-making process, with a particular focus on congressional statutory control, executive oversight through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the dynamics of interest group pressure on financial regulatory agencies. He also has working papers on the growth of state-level administrative procedure laws since the New Deal and the role of teachers unions in stemming the authorization of new charter schools. Alex spent three years at the World Resources Institute as a Research Analyst and has held internships at the Office of Management and Budget, the Senate Small Business Committee and as an investment banking analyst. He holds an MPA in quantitative policy analysis from Columbia University and a BA from Georgetown University.