Rachel Augustine Potter, "Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy" (U Chicago Press, 2019)


Rule-making may rarely make headlines, but the significance of this largely hidden process cannot be underestimated. Rachel Augustine Potter makes the case in Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy (University of Chicago Press, 2019) that rulemaking is incredibly important, but also political in ways that are misunderstood. Potter is assistant professor at the University of Virginia. With Bending the Rules, Rachel Augustine Potter shows that rulemaking is not the rote administrative activity it is commonly imagined to be, but rather is an intensely political activity. Because rulemaking occurs in a separation of powers system, bureaucrats are not free to implement their preferred policies unimpeded: the president, Congress, and the courts can all get involved in the process, often in conjunction with interest groups. However, rather than capitulating to demands, bureaucrats routinely employ “procedural politicking,” using their deep knowledge of the process to strategically insulate proposals from political scrutiny and interference. Potter shows how bureaucrats use procedures to resist interference from Congress, the President, and the courts at each stage of the process.

Your Host

Heath Brown

View Profile