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Jacob Gersen & Christopher R. Berry, Agency Design and Distributive Politics (John M. Olin Program in L. & Econ. Working Paper No. 539, U. Chi. Pub. L. Working Paper No. 326, Oct. 31, 2010).

Abstract: This paper targets the intersection of two generally distinct literatures: political control of administrative agencies and distributive politics. Based on a comprehensive database of federal spending that tracks allocations from each agency to each congressional district for every year from 1984 through 2007, we analyze the responsiveness of agency spending decisions to presidential and congressional influences. Our research design uses district-by-agency fixed effects to identify the effects of a district’s political characteristics on agency spending allocations. Because most agencies distribute federal funds, we are able to provide empirical evidence about the relationship between structural features of administrative agencies and the degree of political responsiveness of their spending decisions. Because allocation of funds constitutes a readily comparable metric over time and across agencies, we are able to evaluate a host of competing hypotheses about the political control of the bureaucracy by both Congress and the President.