A Public Choice Case for the Administrative State

Georgetown Law Journal, Forthcoming

47 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2000 Last revised: 6 Mar 2013

See all articles by David B. Spence

David B. Spence

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law; University of Texas at Austin – McCombs School of Business – Department of Business, Government & Society; University of Texas at Austin - Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business

Frank B. Cross

Deceased; Deceased; Deceased

Date Written: 2000

Abstract

Public choice models have tended to take a dim view of delegation of policymaking authority to administrative agencies, but public choice methods can be used just as easily to construct a normative defense of delegation. We offer just such a defense here. We construct a simple formal model posing a hypothetical voter choice: whether to delegate policy decisions to elected politicians or to agencies. We then use the model to (1) suggest reasons why voters might often prefer to delegate policymaking authority to agencies, and (2) address the questions of whether agency policymaking autonomy is desirable, constitutionally valid, and practically workable irrespective of whether voters prefer it. Ours is essentially a Madisonian argument for deliberative decision-making in the modern administrative state, one that mirrors non-public choice defenses of administrative agencies as loci of deliberation. We thus take a different route to conclusions similar to those reached by Mark Seidenfeld, that "civic republicanism is consistent with broad delegations of political decisionmaking authority to officials with greater expertise and fewer immediate political pressures than directly elected officials or legislators." Our model demonstrates that agency policymaking is often desirable (and often desired by voters) irrespective of the ability of elected politicians to control what agencies do.

JEL Classification: K23

Suggested Citation

Spence, David B. and Cross, Frank B., A Public Choice Case for the Administrative State (2000). Georgetown Law Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=220548

David B. Spence (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

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Austin, TX 78705
United States

University of Texas at Austin – McCombs School of Business – Department of Business, Government & Society ( email )

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Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-471-0778 (Phone)
512-343-0535 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: https://law.utexas.edu/faculty/dspence/

University of Texas at Austin - Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

Frank B. Cross

Deceased

Deceased

Deceased

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