Whirlpools of information: information processing in policy subsystems 1995-2010

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2015-12
Authors
Shafran, JoBeth Surface
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Abstract

This project focuses on information processing in policy subsystems, specifically how congressional committees in the domestic commerce, energy, and health care policy areas prioritize available information, with an extended analysis of information supply and prioritization in energy policy. I examine the conditions under which federal bureaucrats are most likely to supply information to Congress in these three policy areas. I seek to determine whether and to what extent the bureaucratic supply of information changes by issue area, presiding congressional committee, and in response to problem uncertainty. My findings suggest that the number of bureaucrats testifying varies by both policy area and committee type. Furthermore, as the problem uncertainty for a committee increases, so too does the number of federal bureaucrats invited to testify. These findings are especially true for careerist bureaucrats. Within energy policy, my findings show that the subsystem actors most likely to supply information at a hearing varies across committees, over time, and by specific issue area. By examining who supplies information, this project will provide a better understanding of how subsystem actors are prioritized by congressional committees as information suppliers. This study is important because the information supplied by these non-elected policy elites can then influence the problem definition process, structure policy debates, and impact policy formulation.

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