Executive-Legislative Affairs (PO 541)

Dr. George Serra
Office: 180 Summer Street House, Room 103 (531-2417)
Email Address: gserra@bridgew.edu

Course Description
An examination of the relationship between the legislative and executive branches. Emphasis on the role of the legislature and executive branch agencies in lawmaking and budgetary process, legislative oversight of bureaucracy, the importance of constituency service and how it impacts governmental agencies, legislative and bureaucratic behavioral motives and goals, the politics of bureaucratic appointments and how chief executives increase their influence over the administrative state, and the influence of lobbies on legislative and executive branches of government as well as how agencies effectively mobilize constituency groups and advocate their programs.

Course Books
We will be reading substantial portions of three books. These "required" books are available at the campus book store.

Jeffrey M Berry, The Interest Group Society.
Walter J. Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process.
Richard W. Waterman, Presidential Influence and the Administrative State.

The remainder of the assigned readings will be provided in a course reader.

Course Requirements:
Students are responsible for all course readings and lectures. Exam questions will be drawn from both of these sources. Final grades will be based on the student's performance on two exams, term paper, and class participation.

Exams: There will be a midterm and final exam. The midterm exam represents 30 percent of your final grade; the final exam constitutes 30 percent of your final grade. For all exams you will be required to provide a broad understanding of the course material.

Make-up exams will be given only if you have a serious emergency and notify me prior to the examination. Medical excuses must be accompanied by a note from a physician or from the campus health services. Every effort will be made to produce a make-up exam which is comparable in format and level of difficulty to the original exam, but it is impossible to guarantee that this can be done to everyone's satisfaction.

Paper: The term paper will be a 15-20 page "legislative history" of some bill chosen by the student plus discussion of program resources, or inputs, provided for that program, and the manner in which those resources have been employed in program implementation. Be sure your paper gives adequate balance in its treatment of the legislative history, program resources, and other aspects of implementation. We will have a library session on the use of documentary material needed for the research paper. A meeting will be scheduled at the library during class time. Further details will be given out early in the term. A supplemental handout outlining the details of the term paper assignment is attached to the PO 541 syllabus.

 The paper will be due in class. No late papers will be accepted without a note from a physician or from the campus health services. The term paper is worth 30 percent of your final grade.

Class Participation: Class participation is worth 10 percent of your final grade. You must read the assigned course material for each class and be prepared for class discussion.

Reading Assignments

I. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process

A. Overview: The Legislative Process
Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, Chapters 1, 3, and 8. [Note: useful Glossary of Congressional Terms at the end of the book.]

B. Legislative-Executive: Budget Process
Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, Chapter 2.

Wildavsky and Caiden, The New Politics of the Budgetary Process, Chapter 3 (course reader)

C. The Rules: Internal Structure and Operation
Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, Chapters 4-7.

II. Incentives For Congressional Behavior
David Mayhew, "The Electoral Connection and the Congress" in McCubbins and Sullivan Congress: Structure and Policy. (course reader)

Morris P. Fiorina, "The Case of the Vanishing Marginals: The Bureaucracy Did It." (course reader)

Moon, Serra, and West, "Citizens' Contacts with Bureaucratic and Legislative Officials." Political Research Quarterly. (course reader)

George Serra, "What's In It For Me? The Impact of Congressional Casework on Incumbent Evaluation." American Politics Quarterly. (course reader)


III. Legislative Oversight: Impact of Institutional Arrangements on Public Policy

Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, Chapter 9.

Matthew McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz, "Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrol versus Fire Alarms" in 
Waterman, Presidential Influence and the Administrative State.

Meier, Politics and the Bureaucracy, Chapter 6 (pages 124-137).

****  MIDTERM EXAM  ****

IV. The President, The Bureaucracy, and Decision-Making

A. Bureaucratic Power And Autonomy
Allison, Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis. (course reader)

Meier, Politics and the Bureaucracy, Chapter 1 (pages 1-15), Chapters 2-5.

B. Presidential Controls on Bureaucratic Power
Meier, Politics and the Bureaucracy, Chapter 6 (pages 143-163).

Richard W. Waterman, Presidential Influence and the Administrative State, (entire book).

C. Controlling Bureaucracy: Internal Checks and Reform
Meier, Politics and the Bureaucracy, Chapter 7-8.

George Serra, "Citizen-Initiated Contact and Satisfaction With Bureaucracy: A Multivariate Analysis." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (course reader) 

V. Interest Groups And The American Political System

A. Pluralism and the Advocacy Explosion
Berry, The Interest Group Society, Chapters 1-2.

B. Influence of Lobbies on Political Parties and Government
Berry, The Interest Group Society, Chapters 3-5, and 8.

C. Public Opinion, Lobbying, and Political Action Committees
Berry, The Interest Group Society, Chapter 6-7.

D. Issue Networks and the Role of Business in Politics
Berry, The Interest Group Society, Chapters 9-10.


Supplement To PO 541 Syllabus

Details on the Term Paper Assignment
Legislative History, Program Resources, and Program Implementation

Legislative History

    This involves consideration of the important actors and the process by which a law is enacted. Key actors normally include: the President and/or the White House Staff, spokesman for the Administration from the appropriate departments and agencies, the chairmen and ranking minority party members of the appropriate House and Senate committees and subcommittees, other interested congressmen and senators, representatives of organized interest groups, and spokesmen for the general public. Identify the principal actors at the several stages of the process. Assess the stakes of this legislation for these actors (i.e., evaluate the costs and benefits for an actor of various degrees of involvement in and identification with this legislation). To whom was this legislation important? Why? Identify the principal proponents and opponents of this legislation and assess their relative status and power in the process.
    The process of legislation involves at least the following: The evaluation of an issue to a position of sufficient importance to have it placed on the agenda of serious legislative business; the statement by the Administration of its position on the issue and efforts undertaken to achieve a favorable outcome; the formal consideration of a measure by subcommittees, committees, and the entire membership of both Houses of Congress; and formal signing by the President of a bill passed by both chambers. Indicate the origins of this legislation: what political-social-economic events and history made it important? What similar legislation had been enacted or defeated previously? Which actors were principally responsible for initiating the legislation? Discuss the formal process: What role did the President and/or White House play? Did the action flow from House to Senate or vice versa? Which subcommittees and committees considered the bill? Who were the respective floor managers? Which stage of the process favored the proponents of the legislation? Which stage of the process favored the opponents?
    Throughout this legislative process you will see choices being made either consciously or unconsciously, and by action or inaction. You should constantly keep in mind the question of options followed and options foregone throughout the political process. Why was the policy choice and approach taken selected over another alternatives and options? Why were, e.g., subsidies over regulation? Why was a "market approach" used in favor of government intervention? Who favored the option(s) chosen? What happened to the possible alternatives? Were any embodied in the legislation? Did any emerge later on? The understanding of alternatives and the analysis of what happened to them is central to policy analysis.
    Another fundamentally important dimension in most public policies at the present time is the intergovernmental dimension of policy. How will the law you are considering affect state and local governments? What costs will be absorbed by sub-national governments? By what means will the national government try to force local governments to comply with national policy mandates?

Provisions of the Law
What were the main provisions of the bill signed into public law by the President? How did these provisions differ from the bill originally submitted to the Congress? What provisions were controversial? Noncontroversial?
    Is the language of this public law broad, general, and vague - or narrow, specific, and precise? Does it provide substantial discretionary authority to administrators, or is it highly directive?

Sources of Information
    Useful background information can be found in the National Journal Reports (formerly the National Journal). Sources also include various official publications put out by Congress itself. Among the official publications are the Congressional Record, along with hearings and reports issued by the House and Senate committees. In addition to the official sources are some highly regarded unofficial sources of information on congressional activity. These sources would include Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, Congressional Quarterly Almanac, The Congressional Information Service Almanac, and various publications by Commerce Clearing House, and finally newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. No paper is likely to consult all of these sources, but every paper will deal with a significant variety of them.
   Presidential statements can be found in weekly compilation of Presidential Documents, which includes messages to Congress, news conference transcripts, executive orders, and all other public acts of the President.

Program Resources   
    One resource is the statute or public law authorizing the program. Briefly indicate, without repeating the legislative history part of the paper, the degree of direction or discretion which the law conveys to the program administrator. Are goals and objectives clearly specified, or are they left to the administrators to specify? What modifications have been made in program goals and objectives, and in degree of discretionary authority to the administrators, by successive re-authorization of the legislation? Have these modifications been marginal or substantial?
    Organizational resources relate to organization location and internal patterns of organization. Where does the organizational unit responsible for administering your program fit in the larger organizational context of which it is part? Does this unit have easy and direct access to higher levels of agency authority, or is access a difficult problem? (Does it have direct and easy access to important congressional committees, either legislative or appropriation?) Does the organization unit have resources which provide it with substantial or limited autonomy relative to its organizational environment? How does this agency relate to sub-national governments; what powers and authority does it have to monitor the actions of these other governments.
    How is the responsible organizational unit  organized internally? Does it have ample, adequate, or limited staff resources? Does it have high level staff resources, or is it reliant upon the middle range of the general pay grade schedule; What if any, consultative or advisory bodies exist which are related to your program? To whom do they report, and how are they related to program implementation?
    Budgetary resources are critical to program implementation. The first part of your paper dealt with authorization for your program, but authorizing legislation does not provide appropriations for program implementation. The authorization does set limits of several kinds on appropriations. First, time limits may be established: some authorization is continuing in and out; some is periodic, frequently for three-year periods; some is annual. Second, dollar limits may be established: some limit specific amounts which may not be exceeded by appropriation legislation; other authorization simply provides authority to appropriate "such sums as may be necessary." While authorization limits technically constitute a ceiling on appropriations, you should be mindful that they are often established as targets and thus as a means to place political pressure on the Administration and the appropriations committees.
    Appropriations are provided by public law in a manner similar to the way in which authorizing legislation is enacted. Appropriation legislation may not precede authorizing legislation, however, and is handled by the relevant subcommittees of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The title of the subcommittee corresponds with the title of the hearings and reports for both Houses of Congress, so you should look for appropriation information with reference to the subcommittee handling the department or agency by which your program is administered. The bill number for appropriations legislation is the same in both House and Senate: it will be an H.R. number since expenditure bills, by custom, originate in the House. House hearing are more thorough than Senate hearings.
    Prepare a table of information on the appropriation history of your program over the years you have chosen. The table should be organized in the following manner:

Appropriations History for ______________________________________________
($ in thousands)






Public Law

The fiscal year begins October 1st and ends September 30th; e.g. fiscal 1999 began October 1, 1998 and ended on September 30, 1999. The budget request refers to the President's Budget. This number can be found in several places: The Budget, the House Appropriations Committee Report, the Senate Appropriations Committee Report. (Use "Actual" rather than "Estimate" numbers whenever possible.) The House recommendation can be found in the public law appropriating funds for the relevant department or agency, or in the next year's Budget, House report, or Senate report.
    What major political controversies are apparent for the tabular information? What is the pattern of program growth which is discernable?

Program Implementation    
    The implementation part of your paper should show who does what and how they do it. A program is set of activities to achieve goals. What are the activities (and who are the actors) in your program.

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