Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Political Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Most public policy is developed and implemented by the federal bureaucracy. The possibility of unelected bureaucrats subverting the wishes of popularly elected political principals threatens to sever democratic control of policy by the populace. Through a series of essays, this dissertation explores the opportunities and limitations of one form of bureaucratic control: ex post political oversight by a third-party. Through a series of formal models I illustrate how oversight, such as judicial or executive review of agency actions, structures the policymaking incentives of bureaucratic agencies. The way oversight affects agency behavior, in turn, structures incentives for political principals to design and sustain politically biased policymaking agencies in exchange for higher quality policy promulgation. Overall, the results illustrate the good and bad sides of political oversight and how it can be leveraged to inform several important issues of institutional design. The results suggest paths to improve bureaucratic motivational strategies by administrators.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

John W Patty

Committee Members

Elizabeth Maggie Penn, Randall Calvert, Gary J Miller, Justin Fox, Brian W Rogers


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