THE POLITICS OF ADMINISTRATIVE RULEMAKING
WEST, WILLIAM FLOYD
Doctor of Philosophy
Despite the importance of rulemaking, it has been virtually ignored as a separate topic of study by political scientists. This is unfortunate, for the use or non-use of rulemaking as an alternative means of carrying out statutory mandates is significant for several reasons. The Federal Trade Commission's experience indicates that rulemaking is a more forceful and expedient way of implementing policy than proceeding without standards via the case-by-case approach. It is also fairer to those potentially affected by government policy. In spite of these advantages, however, the FTC and other agencies have often been reluctant to issue rules. This has often been due to political resistance by those who do not wish to be regulated, or by those who otherwise wish to alter policy as it is implemented. Given the use of rulemaking, the selection of specific rulemaking procedures can also be important. The FTC has been required by Congress to use trial-like procedures in arriving at final rules. This requirement was added to the Commission's enabling legislation in 1974 to ensure that agency decisions would be based on sound rationale. Whether or not the FTC's new procedures have achieved this goal, they have had other significant effects. They have forced the FTC to scrutinize rule premises more closely than in the past. If this has been a "good effect," however, the procedures have also imposed very considerable delay on agency decision making, and have limited the scope of agency policy to alternatives that can be justified with factual evidence. There is little doubt that regulated industry, which was instrumental in persuading Congress to impose new requirements, perceived that trial-like procedures would limit the FTC in these ways. Rulemaking and rulemaking procedure, as well as other administrative processes, can be usefully included in the study of policy making. The "causes" and "effects" of formal, institutional arrrangements can be dealt with empirically. Indeed, they should be, for as alternative modes of implementation they have important administrative and political effects.
Political science; Public administration