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Epstein and O'Halloran: Administrative procedures, information, and agency discretion

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Epstein and O'Halloran. 1994. Administrative procedures, information, and agency discretion. AJPS 38:697-722.

Much of the game theory here was beyond me, but here's the general gist.


"As [Congress's ex post] agenda control increases and problems of asymmetric information decline [i.e. Congress has better technical information], Congress will delegate a minimum level of ex ante discretionary authority to an agency, regardless of differences in policy preferences" (715).

In other words:

  • X1: Congress's ability to control agency actions ex post
  • X2: Congress's level of technical information about a policy's effects
  • Y: The amount of (ex ante) discretionary authority that Congress delegates to an agency
  • As X1 and X2 rise, Y falls (but it won't fall below a minimum level of necessary discretionary authority)


  • I didn't really get the model/theory...
  • Same concern as with Bawn (1995): is there really a tradeoff between minimizing political uncertainty (control) and technical uncertainty (expertise)?