Bureaucratic autonomy and the policymaking capacity of United States agencies, 1998-2021

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Despite a renewed interest in the health of the US administrative state, the absence of meaningful time-series measures of bureaucratic capacity hinders the testing of core theories of bureaucratic and executive politics. Using over 190 million personnel records, I estimate 5590 yearly policymaking-capacity scores for 261 unique agencies from 1998 to 2021. These measures provide an invaluable tool as either an independent or dependent variable in studies of administrative policymaking. To illustrate the value of these measures, I test longstanding theories about the relationship between bureaucratic autonomy and capacity. In contrast with emerging survey research, this study demonstrates that agencies with higher levels of structural independence have higher levels of policymaking capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Political Science Association.


  • administrative policymaking
  • bureaucratic autonomy
  • bureaucratic capacity


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