Title

Ex Post Review and Expert Policy Making: When Does Oversight Reduce Accountability?

Author Information

John W. Patty
Ian R. Turner

Date of Publication

2021 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Political Stability

Keywords

Oversight, policy making, institutions, policy decision

Description

Ex post review is a common feature of policy-making institutions. We consider an environment in which an expert agent makes a policy recommendation, which can then be accepted or rejected by an overseer whose policy goals differ from those of the agent. The theory suggests that both behavior and optimal institutional design are sensitive to several factors, including actors’ preference alignment, the importance of the policy decision, and the uncertainty about the correct policy choice. We characterize the types of situations in which ex post review creates incentives for the agent to make pathological policy choices. In these situations, ex post review can reduce accountability of the agent to overseer wishes and ultimately provide incentives to set aside review entirely. The theory also offers testable predictions about policy recommendations and the overseer’s acceptance or rejection of these recommendations.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Ex Post Review and Expert Policy Making: When Does Oversight Reduce Accountability?

Ex post review is a common feature of policy-making institutions. We consider an environment in which an expert agent makes a policy recommendation, which can then be accepted or rejected by an overseer whose policy goals differ from those of the agent. The theory suggests that both behavior and optimal institutional design are sensitive to several factors, including actors’ preference alignment, the importance of the policy decision, and the uncertainty about the correct policy choice. We characterize the types of situations in which ex post review creates incentives for the agent to make pathological policy choices. In these situations, ex post review can reduce accountability of the agent to overseer wishes and ultimately provide incentives to set aside review entirely. The theory also offers testable predictions about policy recommendations and the overseer’s acceptance or rejection of these recommendations.