Shipan and Potter: "Agency rulemaking in a separation of powers system"

January 31, 2018

An article by Professor Charles Shipan and doctoral alumna Rachel Potter (PhD '14), "Agency rulemaking in a separation of powers system," was published in the Journal of Public Policy (Cambridge University Press) in November.


Rulemaking gives agencies significant power to change public policy, but agencies do not exercise this power in a vacuum. The separation of powers system practically guarantees that, at times, agencies will be pushed and pulled in different directions by Congress and the president. We argue that these forces critically affect the volume of rules produced by an agency. We develop an account of agency rulemaking in light of these factors and test our hypotheses on a data set of agency rules from 1995 to 2007. Our results show that even after accounting for factors specific to each agency, agencies do, in fact, adjust the quantity of rules they produce in response to separation of powers oversight. Further analysis shows that the president’s influence is limited to those agencies that he has made a priority.