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On the Reg: Understanding the Nature of Governmental Growth in Context

Sat, August 31, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Marriott, Harding


As the administrative state has grown over the last hundred-plus years, much of the policy-making that occurs now takes place in the various departments and agencies spread throughout the country rather than in Congress proper. Scholars have given us tremendous insights into the conditions under which Congress delegates such authority to the bureaucracy, but there remains interesting variation in the volume of regulations that is worth exploring. What causes trends and fluctuations in the federal government’s regulatory activity? To what extent is regulatory growth part of a constant, extra-partisan process as opposed to a process heavily influenced by elected political actors like Congress and the president? Using a dynamic time-series model that allows me to assess short- and long-run effects, this paper aims to provide answers to these questions and to further develop our understanding about how the administrative state functions in this populist political moment. After all, bureaucracy, with its complex rules, policies, procedures, and technicalities, faces unique challenges, and there is reason to suspect that the polarization of the times has affected the regulatory process in ways scholars have yet to fully comprehend.