Public policy is produced by elected and unelected officials and through the interactions of branches of government. We consider how such interactions affect policy implementation and representation. We argue that legislators try to influence bureaucratic decisions through direct communication with federal agencies, and that such contact is effective and has consequences for policy outcomes. We provide empirical evidence of this argument using original data about direct communication between members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) along with decisions made by the DOL regarding trade and redistributive policies. We find that direct contacts influence DOL decisions, and the agency is more likely to reverse previous decisions when requested to do so by legislators. Our results challenge key assumptions and findings in the previous literature and have important implications for interbranch relations and informal means of control over the implementation of national policy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- public policy