That’s the topic of a new paper by Gary Hollibaugh, now out on JPART Advance Access:
Much of the bureaucratic literature suggests that, when staffing the bureaucracy, executives want agents who are both responsive to their political needs and possess the competence needed to fulfill their directives. However, institutional barriers—such as the requirement for legislative confirmation—exist that may make pursuing a strategy of responsive competence difficult, if not impossible. Here, I examine a model of bureaucratic appointments that allows for informationally imperfect agencies. I show that when legislative assent is required, trade-offs between ideology and either patronage or agency performance—or both—are often required to ensure legislative confirmation. The same dynamics are not present for unilateral appointments. Finally, using a data set that incorporates the ideologies of federal program managers, the performance of federal programs, and whether program managers were patronage appointees, I conduct a series of empirical tests that support the model’s predictions.
Interesting throughout, if only because it’s a useful take on the EITM paradigm for those of us working on agencies from a public management viewpoint.