Notice & Comment

Introduction to Book Symposium: Rachel A. Potter’s Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy

This week, we’re hosting a web symposium on Dr. Rachel A. Potter’s new book, Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy (University of Chicago Press). Dr. Potter is an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. Prior to her academic career, she worked for the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the German Federal Ministry of the Interior. With this background, plus her impressive academic record, Dr. Potter was uniquely well-positioned to write this book. I’m actually not sure anyone else could have done it.

Here’s an excerpt of the book summary from the Press (emphasis added):

With Bending the Rules, Rachel Augustine Potter shows that rulemaking is not the rote administrative activity it is commonly imagined to be but rather an intensely political activity in its own right. Because rulemaking occurs in a separation of powers system, bureaucrats are not free to implement their preferred policies unimpeded: the president, Congress, and the courts can all get involved in the process, often at the bidding of affected interest groups. However, rather than capitulating to demands, bureaucrats routinely employ “procedural politicking,” using their deep knowledge of the process to strategically insulate their proposals from political scrutiny and interference. Tracing the rulemaking process from when an agency first begins working on a rule to when it completes that regulatory action, Potter shows how bureaucrats use procedures to resist interference from Congress, the President, and the courts at each stage of the process. This exercise reveals that unelected bureaucrats wield considerable influence over the direction of public policy in the United States.

Here’s a list of our contributors for a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • Bridget Dooling (The George Washington University, Regulatory Studies Center)
  • Bernard Bell (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Law School)
  • Jennifer Nou (University of Chicago, Law School)
  • Christopher Carrigan (The George Washington University, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration)
  • Andrew Rudalevige (Bowdoin College, Department of Government and Legal Studies)
  • Emily Bremer (University of Notre Dame, Law School)
  • Chris Walker (The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law)
  • Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy)
  • Rachel Potter (University of Virginia, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics)

In my opinion, folks who write about and otherwise follow administrative law should get to know scholars in fields that are adlaw’s close cousins: political science, public administration, economics, public policy, and others. Although it can be hard to get the incentives right for scholars to do interdisciplinary work, as you’ll see from the pieces we’ll run this week it can be so productive and fun when it happens. This is, in fact, what inspired us to invite Dr. Potter to GW to launch her book earlier this year, and to develop this symposium for the blog. We really hope you enjoy it.

*          *          *

This post is part of a symposium reviewing Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy, a new book by Dr. Rachel A. Potter, Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. All of the posts can be read here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email