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Rachel Augustine Potter

Bending the Rules

Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy

University of Chicago Press 2019

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 17, 2019 Heath Brown

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...

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.