New Research – How Politics Influences Statutory Deadlines

I am pleased to announce that Kathleen Doherty and I have published an article in Public Administration Review that considers U.S. federal agency compliance with statutory deadlines as a management problem that must respect the political feasibility of rulemaking as well as agency capacity.  The abstract follows and gated and SSRN versions of the paper are now available.

Congress imposes statutory deadlines in an attempt influence agency regulatory agendas, though agencies regularly fail to meet these deadlines. Non-compliance can take the form of delay, and at the extreme, non-promulgation of mandated regulations. What political and administrative conditions shape the timing of rules subject to statutory deadlines and how do they do so? We consider compliance from the agency’s perspective, as a management problem of optimizing the regulatory agenda subject to two constraints: the political feasibility of rulemaking and the capacity of agencies. We further argue that public managers consider how delay maps into what we distinguish as political and administrative time. We test our theory on all unique rules with statutory deadlines published in the Unified Agenda between 1995-2012. Our argument and findings about the timing and ultimate promulgation of rules have implications that reorient studies of the regulatory agenda from legal and political into more managerial terms.