United States

   

Executive Capacity

#30
Key Findings
With a worrisome degree of chaos at top executive levels, the United States scores relatively poorly (rank 30) with respect to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 2.2 points relative to 2014.

President Trump has shown virtually no interest in long-range planning. Executive decision-making does not follow orderly processes. Republicans in Congress have drafted key measures in secret, avoiding public discussion. Agencies have suffered massive losses of expert staff, and Trump has failed to fill key agency political-appointee positions. The executive branch has seen calamitous failures of coordination

Impact analysis has largely been abandoned at the administration level, with sustainability checks manipulated, ignored or avoided. The White House press office has been heavily engaged in defending or obscuring Trump’s many false claims and inconsistencies. The administration engages in closed-door meetings with lobbyists and supporters, without broader attempts to integrate societal actors.

A preoccupied Congress passed no major legislation in 2019. The Trump administration has sought to impose controls on states that have maintained liberal policies, for example with regard to automobile emissions. Regulatory enforcement in certain areas, such as the environment or workplace safety, has largely ceased.

Strategic Capacity

#31

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
5
The U.S. government has a number of units that analyze policy issues and make long-term projections as part of the assessment of current options. The Executive Office of the President has multiple staffs and agencies tasked with analyzing various policy issues. On the legislative side, the Congressional Budget Office analyzes the 10-year fiscal impact of all bills with budget implications. Expertise about long-term considerations is available in abundance, in the agencies, Congress and the White House.

In most areas of government and policy, President Trump has shown virtually no interest in long-range planning, professional expertise or even organized, careful deliberation. Economists are notably absent among his high-level economic advisers and appointees. In national security policy, he has favored senior military officers, but often relied on his own untutored preferences and impulses. His administration has essentially eschewed any conventionally organized advisory and decision-making processes.

In Congress, the Republican leadership has sought to overcome popular resistance to its major policies on healthcare and taxes by avoiding public hearings or bipartisan discussion of any kind. Instead, bills are drafted in secret within Republican task forces and brought to a vote with the expectation that party members will toe the line. Republican leaders have tried to prevent the “scoring” of legislative proposals by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which assess the budgetary implications of bills over the next 10 years.

The vast majority of government departments and agencies have witnessed devastating losses of high-level staff, both because the Trump White House has failed to make political appointments to many positions and because long-serving civil service experts have left agencies due to pressure or discouragement.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
4
U.S. policymaking incorporates scholarly and expert advice in an informal and highly decentralized manner. Along with university-based experts and analytic agency staffs, there are a few hundred think tanks – non-governmental organizations that specialize in policy research and commentary.
Republicans and conservatives have been less supportive of the institutions in government and academia that undertake research and policy analysis than Democrats and liberals, partly because such research is sometimes perceived to have a left-leaning bias. On some issues, especially climate change, Republican officials have simply rejected well-established scientific findings. Through 2018 the Trump administration has annulled or withdrawn various environmental regulations (on pesticides, endangered species, and other matters) without addressing the scientific evidence.
As with the role of strategic planning and other expert units within government, the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress have drastically subordinated or ignored sources of independent academic or research-based advice. In 2019, the Department of Agriculture moved scientific research agencies from the Washington, D.C. area to Kansas, apparently for the purpose of inducing most of the scientists to leave government employment.

Interministerial Coordination

#17

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
7
The closest comparison to a government office or prime minister’s office in the U.S. system is the White House staff, along with other units of the Executive Office of the President (e.g., the Council of Economic Advisers, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Security Council).

Because of the separation of powers, Congress or particular congressional committees sometimes compete with the president to shape policymaking in executive agencies. In response to these challenges, presidents have gradually established a large executive apparatus designed to help assert presidential control over the departments and agencies as well as enable the independence of presidential policy decisions. The total professional staff in the presidential bureaucracy vastly exceeds that of a parliamentary system’s GO or PMO, with roughly 2,500 professionals and a budget of $300 million to $400 million.

The Trump White House is by all accounts vastly inferior in expertise and organization to that of any prior modern president. Trump has not seriously attempted to maintain orderly processes or to rely on experienced or expert judgment. Insiders have regularly described a state of “chaos” in which White House staff are often preoccupied with preventing destructive behavior by the president. The Office of Management and Budget still has a large permanent staff that can analyze bills, but the president’s use of such expertise is accidental or haphazard.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
10
In the U.S. system, this item relates to how the executive departments and agencies involve the president and the White House staff in their work. Under long-established practice, however, the president and the White House staff are in fact dominant within the executive branch and can therefore prioritize issues they see as important to the president’s agenda. In the Trump administration, agency policy development has been heavily shaped by Trump’s desire to cut regulations and to reverse actions taken by the Obama administration. There has been little policy development shaped by long-term agency missions or priorities, nor has White House involvement reflected organized deliberative processes.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
5
The question for the U.S. system is whether, on major issues, White House advisory processes prepare issues thoroughly for the president, and on lesser issues with interagency implications, whether interagency committees prepare them thoroughly for decision by the relevant cabinet members. The U.S. system of advisory processes varies considerably, even within a single presidential administration, but is largely under control of the president’s appointees in the White House. The process is to a great extent ad hoc, with organizational practices varying over time and from one issue area to another, based partly on the personnel involved. Typically, important decisions are “staffed out” through an organized committee process. However, the ad hoc character of organization (compared with a parliamentary cabinet secretariat), along with the typically short-term service of political appointees – resulting in what one scholar has called “a government of strangers” – renders the quality of these advisory processes unreliable.

President Trump’s White House has thoroughly neglected the role of managing an organized, systematic policy process. Trump selected his third White House chief of staff before the end of his second year in office. Decision processes have been described as chaotic, even by insiders.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
4
In general, there is an expectation of interagency coordination at various levels of the bureaucracy. The quality of this coordination varies, and as with cabinet-level coordination, it is adversely affected by the short-term service of political appointees, which results in underdeveloped working relationships across agencies. President Trump has failed to appoint or nominate people to occupy a large majority of the important political-appointee positions in the agencies. In addition, permanent staff have been departing. As a consequence, it would be impossible for interagency coordination to operate effectively at this stage of his presidency.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
7
The U.S. government is highly prone to informal coordination, relying on personal networks, constituency relationships and other means. As with formal processes, the effectiveness of such coordination is adversely affected by underdeveloped working relationships resulting from the short-term service of political appointees. The overall or average performance of informal coordination mechanisms has not been systematically evaluated. The Trump administration’s lack of experienced personnel in key agency positions leads to an increased role for informal coordination, often based on various personal networks, such as people connected with Trump’s family or businesses. These arrangements, however, are not sufficiently developed to make up for the lack of personnel and organization in the departments and agencies. The executive branch under Trump has seen calamitous failures of coordination – for example, in the failure to provide timely disaster assistance after a devastating 2017 hurricane in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and the failure to provide effectively for the humane custody of more than 2,000 children seized in 2018 from asylum-seeking parents at the Mexican border. These failures of coordination, however, largely reflect general problems of understaffing and lack of competent leadership in the departments and agencies in the Trump presidency.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
8
The U.S. government invests heavily in technology, although it is not a world leader in e-government. The multiple intelligence agencies are sometimes criticized as prone to hording intelligence information, rather than sharing it within the intelligence community. Reforms adopted in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have increased the sharing of information among the intelligence agencies.

Apart from intelligence issues, problems of coordination generally arise from political forces that promote agency autonomy and response to specialized constituencies, not from deficiencies in communication technology.

Evidence-based Instruments

#20

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
5
In general, U.S. government has provided for extensive analysis of major decisions, within both the legislative and executive branches, and for administrative or regulatory decisions as well as legislation. Regulatory impact assessment for agency regulations is supervised by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). For significant regulations, OMB must approve impact assessments conducted by the agencies as a condition for issuing the regulations. In addition, the Government Accountability Office, which reports to Congress, conducts assessments on an ad hoc basis, mostly in response to requests by Congress. The CBO conducts analysis of proposed bills, including cost estimates over a 10-year period. The Congressional Research Service also conducted several notable studies on climate change.

The Trump administration largely abandoned impact analysis and other professional expertise. Agencies have been under a strong presidential mandate to reduce regulations and reverse decisions taken during the Obama administration. This effort has been aggressively carried out on the basis of minimal analysis. The president also issued an order saying that for every new regulation that an agency adopts, it is required to cancel two existing regulations – a mechanical solution that does not permit analytic influence. Impact analyses remain in use in areas that have not attracted the attention of the president, the White House or Republican congressional actors.

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
5
Regulatory impact assessment is a highly political process, with a strong tendency for results to reflect the preferences and expectations of the agency or political official that controls the process. A 2011 study of regulatory impact assessments by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations demonstrated the biasing effect of political priorities. The Obama administration issued new rules at a rate 40% higher than either Clinton or Bush. While Obama’s regulators reported costs triple those of Bush’s, they also reported benefits eight times higher.

Trump administration regulatory officials have had little concern about impact assessment. In canceling the Obama era’s “net neutrality” regulations, the Federal Communications Commission relied on a large volume of citizen messages that it had already determined were produced by internet bots, rather than actual people. The Trump administration has focused on repealing regulations opposed by business groups, mostly without substantial analytic effort.

In the United States, RIA are based primarily on a presidential order or decree like the one issued by President Trump shortly after he was inaugurated on January 30, 2017, reading “it is important that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.”
Before the end of the current observation period (late 2019), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) was proposing to update its regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These updated regulations are designed to advance the original goals of CEQ regulations such as reducing paperwork and delays, and ensuring that decisions are consistent with the national environmental policy set forth in section 101 of the NEPA.

Citations:
Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, Issued on: January 30, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executive-order-reducing-regulation-controlling-regulatory-costs/
Federal Register January 10, 2020: Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/01/10/2019-28106/update-to-the-regulations-implementing-the-procedural-provisions-of-the-national-environmental

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
6
There has been no standard, separate check required for “sustainability” as such. Assessments have been expected to consider the important costs and benefits relevant to a particular project or policy. While environmental considerations figured prominently in some cases prior to 2016, environmental issues have been aggressively dismissed by the Trump administration. Sustainability checks are either manipulated, ignored or simply do not take place. There are undoubtedly some areas of government – below the radar of Trump, his thin cadre of political appointees, and the business lobbyists that have his attention – in which serious sustainability checks are taking place and guiding decisions.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
5
The United States has extensive and highly sophisticated capabilities for evaluating the impact of public policies – within government, in a large sector of think tanks and consulting firms, and in the extensive public policy-oriented academic community. In normal times, however, U.S. government is relatively inflexible, and slow to respond to evidence of the need for change. This is a widely recognized consequence of the separation-of-powers constitutional system, which was designed to inhibit policy change. In particular, the institutional barriers to policy change enhance the ability of organized groups to resist reforms that they oppose.

The lack of interest in information about the consequences of policies reached a new and quite extraordinary level during the first two years of the Trump presidency. In some cases, the Republican leadership overrode congressional rules by refusing to wait for CBO analysis before voting on bills. Policy journalists have described an unprecedented indifference among senior government officials to evidence of the actual effects of policy. Effective use of evaluation information is limited to issues that are not on presidential or partisan agendas, and independent regulatory commissions (with multiple commissioners, serving fixed terms) that are not yet controlled by Trump appointees.

Societal Consultation

#29

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
5
The U.S. political system is noteworthy for the degree to which it elicits opinions and preferences from societal actors at all stages of the policy process and enables such actors to shape policy outcomes. These processes, however, are informal, decentralized and not especially conducive to careful deliberation. In the U.S. system, the president and congressional leaders must build congressional support for each measure. Interest groups, ideological activists, experts and ordinary citizens have extensive opportunity to influence policymakers before decisions have been made. Societal responses are elicited in a variety of ways. The White House maintains direct relationships with some interest groups. Congressional committees hold hearings on most legislative initiatives and on general policy issues. Furthermore, the president, party leaders and major interest groups use media-based strategies to mobilize public opinion, often using targeting strategies to reach sympathetic groups. In sum, the U.S. government is highly open to influence by societal forces. This openness is not designed to ensure consensus and does not do so, although action without broad support is normally difficult.

The Trump administration is focusing more on behind-closed-door meetings with lobbyists and supporters and there are no broader attempts to integrate a plurality of societal actors.

Policy Communication

#31

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
4
Under normal conditions, politically appointed leadership in every agency means that executive agencies and departments will typically have coordinated their messages with those responsible for the White House communications strategy. Agency press releases and statements on politically salient matters are often cleared with the White House and will be planned for consistency with the president’s priorities and political strategy.

During the Trump presidency, the White House press office has been heavily engaged in defending or obscuring Trump’s many false claims and inconsistent positions. The Washington Post has counted more than 14,000 false or misleading claims (including repetitions) in Trump’s first three years of office.

The coherence of administration messaging is often undermined by chaotic policymaking, sharp deviations from established doctrines and practices, and the pursuit of unacknowledged policy priorities. For example, the 2018 National Climate Assessment, a collaborative product of thirteen federal agencies and 300 scientists, confirmed standard scientific findings indicating the need for urgent action to mitigate climate change – yet Trump declared that he did not believe the report’s findings. He has generally denied the validity of intelligence-community findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The administration has sometimes denied, and sometimes acknowledged, a policy of separating refugee families at the Mexican border. Trump often announces major policy changes by tweet only to not follow through with official action.

It is rare for different agencies to issue conflicting statements, but White House and agency statements may change rapidly and lack close coordination.

Implementation

#27

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
4
In comparison to parliamentary systems that anticipate the near-automatic legislative approval of government bills, policy implementation in the United States’ separation-of-powers system is presumed to depend on coalition building, negotiation and a relatively broad consensus. In the current, highly polarized state of the major political parties, the ability to act depends heavily on whether partisan control of the presidency and Congress is unified (with the same party controlling the presidency, House and Senate) or divided.

The legislative experience of Trump’s first year, however, was unprecedented. Even under the condition of unified government, the administration proved unable to pass any major legislation, with the exception of tax reform. The Trump administration has implemented major policy initiatives by issuing executive orders and thereby avoiding the process of legislative change. Preoccupied by the Mueller investigation and House hearings and with divided party control, Congress passed no major legislation in 2019. Trump’s first three years were by far the least productive of any modern president so far.

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
10
The president has a high level of control over appointments such as agency and department heads. They serve at the president’s discretion and need the support of the White House for their success, both in terms of agency missions and individual careers. Conflicts between the department heads and the White House occasionally emerge, but they are usually limited to a speech or remark that conflicts with presidential policy. As recent presidents have upgraded their ability to monitor agency activities and to draw major issues into the White House, conflicts between the agencies and the White House have largely disappeared. In some cases, agency heads have ignored or discounted apparent orders from President Trump, which have appeared to reflect his spontaneous, un-deliberated responses, often conveyed via Twitter rather than formal presidential documents. We do not consider these instances to constitute failures of compliance.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
6
The president and the White House monitor activities in departments and agencies to widely varying degrees, depending on the centrality of the activities to the president’s political agenda. Agencies and programs that are not the focus of presidential policy initiatives and are not politically controversial may get little attention from the White House, and in fact may receive most of their political direction from Congress or the congressional committees with jurisdiction over the policy area. Recent years have seen a number of serious failures of administrative control.

Under the Trump administration, unprecedented severe staffing deficiencies in both the White House and the departments has diminished the capacity for monitoring.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
5
Federal departments have central units attached to the relevant secretary’s office that monitor the activities of subordinate agencies. There are no semi- autonomous agencies in the U.S. administrative system. Independent regulatory commissions –including the Federal Reserve Board (both a regulatory agency and the central bank, responsible for monetary policy) – are headed by bipartisan commissions with fixed terms of office and are in some respects outside the executive branch. The White House and certain executive agencies such as the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department monitor the activities of regulatory agencies, despite lacking formal authority to impose changes. State-level agencies which administer federal programs are subject to highly inconsistent federal supervision. The losses of organizational capacity in the federal bureaucracy under Trump reduce the ability of departments to monitor agencies.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
8
The United States has a federal system in which the 50 states are independent sovereign governments, although the federal constitution is “the supreme law of the land.” States have unrestricted power to raise their own revenue, although the federal government takes full advantage of their more productive sources, such as the income tax. There is no general presumption of uniform standards for public services. Rather, the federal government imposes standards or seeks to induce certain levels of performance in varying degrees on different issues.

State officials have often complained that federal mandates required substantial expenditures without providing the necessary funds. In 1995, the Republican Congress passed the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The act provides incentives for Congress and regulatory agencies to identify potential unfunded mandates in the legislative or rule-making process but does not prevent them from setting mandates. As a result, complaints from state officials have subsided. The Trump administration has increased the states’ discretion in the use of funds for food stamps, medical care for the poor (Medicaid), and cash assistance to the poor.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
8
Whether the federal government permits the states to exercise their constitutional authority without undue interference is one of the central, long-term constitutional controversies in U.S. politics. In one sense, there is no such thing as the federal government depriving states of their constitutional discretion. Whatever decisions the federal government imposes on the states can be appealed to the federal courts. Given the availability of appeals, one can assume that states are able to exercise their constitutional jurisdiction as it is currently interpreted. In 2015, the Supreme Court invalidated all state laws that bar same-sex marriage. On the other hand, multiple states have legalized medical and sometimes recreational use of marijuana. The Trump administration has sought to impose controls on states that have maintained certain liberal policies. More notable examples include the administration’s attempt to annul California’s strict standards for automobile emissions, enforce the federal prohibition of cannabis in states that have legalized it, and penalize “sanctuary cities” that protect undocumented immigrants.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
5
Due to the dual nature of the U.S. federal system, the issue of national standards applies mostly to co-financed federal programs, where the federal government sometimes asserts its right to set and monitor compliance with these standards. The bulk of public services are delivered by local and state agencies with minimal intervention by the federal government. The question of enforcing federal standards arises in specific areas where federal policymakers have sought to impose such standards, sometimes to enforce citizens’ rights under the federal constitution, and other times for policy reasons. The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, requires states to meet air-quality standards under the Clean Air Act. Reversing the pattern, the Trump administration has attempted to force the state of California to weaken standards for vehicle emissions. On the other hand, states exercise broad discretion in setting standards of eligibility for Medicaid coverage or with regard to unemployment insurance. A large variation in state government policies and standards of service is regarded as legitimate in most fields.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
5
In general, the United States has invested quite heavily in regulatory enforcement. A substantial amount of investment reflects the frequent, substantial legal resistance to enforcement actions on the part of the targeted firms or other entities. U.S. regulatory agencies are highly subject to judicial review, and their enforcement actions are often appealed, raising the costs of enforcement and reducing its effectiveness. In general, however, enforcement efforts have been sufficiently energetic. As a result, the targeted firms generally take regulations seriously.

During the Trump presidency, however, many of the regulatory agencies have been headed by appointees with extremely strong and direct ties to the regulated industries, or with strong ideological opposition to their agencies’ programs. In certain areas, such as environmental and workplace safety regulations, the Trump administration has largely ceased enforcement activity.

Adaptability

#30

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
6
The United States has developed institutional structures that are able to respond to its international obligations. Climate-change negotiations, for example, have been firmly institutionalized in the Office of Global Affairs in the State Department. Similarly, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was a domestic structural response to the challenges of international terrorism. Whether the policies of these units and agencies have been successful or have facilitated multilateral cooperation has depended on the policy choices of each administration and the disposition of Congress.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
4
The United States has often led international efforts to pursue collective goods. Its institutional structures and political traditions – especially the role of presidential leadership – accommodate all of these approaches. But the United States often cannot act effectively unless a national consensus or single-party control of the government enables the president and Congress to agree on a strategy.

U.S. performance in this area is not significantly constrained by deficiencies of institutional capability. However, the Trump administration, with its avowed “America First” orientation, has reduced its engagement in international forums and agreements. This has included lecturing NATO members on their allegedly insufficient contributions, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and declining to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. In 2019, among other examples, he has opposed efforts to enhance European security capability, worked to undermine the World Trade Organization, and, in conduct that led to his impeachment, withheld military aid from Ukraine to coerce its cooperation with his personal electoral interests.

Organizational Reform

#32

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
5
On the one hand, presidential advisory and administrative arrangements in and around the White House are reconfigured in important respects by each president. As a result of this fluidity, presidents, their staffs and commentators discuss the effectiveness of the given arrangements of the president’s senior aides almost constantly. By contrast, most other organizational structures – including the basic separation-of-powers system; the structure of Congress; and the structure of departments and major agencies of the executive branch – are rigid. None of these is subject to change by executive decision or ordinary legislative majority, and they are evaluated only in extreme circumstances.

The executive structures of the Trump presidency have been exceptionally casual and unstable, with a president who appeared to have no appreciation for the benefits of systematic deliberation and division of labor. In many important agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State Department, and parts of the Department of Justice, mid-tier and lower-level professionals have also left in large numbers.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
4
The U.S. government is exceptionally resistant to constructive institutional reform. There are several major sources of rigidity. First, the requirements for amending the constitution to change core institutions are virtually impossible to meet. Second, statutory institutional change requires agreement between the president, the Senate and the House, all of which may have conflicting interests on institutional matters. Third, the committee system in Congress gives members significant personal career stakes in the existing division of jurisdictions, a barrier to change not only in congressional committees themselves but in the organization of the executive-branch agencies that the committees oversee. Fourth, the Senate operates with a supermajority requirement (the requirement of 60 votes, a three-fifths majority, to invoke “cloture” and end a filibuster), and (except at the beginning of each Congress) changes in Senate procedures themselves are normally subject to the same procedures. Fifth, elected politicians, such as members of Congress, are rarely willing to alter the electoral arrangements and practices that enabled them to win office.
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