"A Peek Inside the Undrained Swamp"
May 22, 2023
Bernhardt describes various factors that contribute to the bureaucratic morass within administrative agencies: badly-written statutes that provide little guidance to regulators; labyrinthine organizational structures within agencies, padded with layers of career civil servants; weak agency heads unwilling (or unable) to manage the sprawling operations they oversee—serving as mere “figureheads” and allowing their agencies to run on “autopilot”; and even chaotic White House staffing arrangements that impede vital communication between agency heads and the president to whom they report. Fixing some of these problems requires action by Congress or (in the case of Chevron deference) the Supreme Court, but—in Bernhardt’s telling—a strong executive can make progress with forceful, decisive management. However, it is not easy: systemic problems elude simple solutions.