Professor of the Politics of Public Policy, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Anthony M. Bertelli is a Professor of the Politics of Public Policy and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. His research is focused on issues of governance, centering on the role of political institutions in shaping public policy outcomes and organizational structure.
Tony grew up in Sharon, Pennsylvania and attended college at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating with dual degrees in Economics and Business, he earned an M.A. in Economics at Penn State, a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D from the University of Chicago. In addition to his post at NYU Wagner, he is Professor of Public Policy Analysis in the School of Government and Society at the University of Birmingham and Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science at University College London. In spring 2015, he will also hold the Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professorship at NYU. Between 2009-2014, Tony held the C.C. Crawford Chair in Management and Performance in the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California and has previously served on the faculties of the University of Kentucky, Texas A&M University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Manchester.
He is the author of four books including Madison’s Managers with Laurence E. Lynn, Jr. (Johns Hopkins University Press); The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance (Cambridge University Press); and Public Policy Investment with Peter John (Oxford University Press). His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Public Administration Review. Tony is Senior Executive Editor of the Journal of Public Policy, which is housed at NYU Wagner, and serves on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and International Public Management Journal.
This course examines tensions among competing values in the formation and implementation of public policies. Applying normative theories of democracy, justice, efficiency, and equity, students will examine a variety of domestic and international cases in which these ideals conflict and become objects of politics. Our objectives are (1) to understand the important trade-offs that underlie and shape public policies in a variety of settings and (2) to develop a framework for evaluating public policies against a set of normative criteria. The course should prove valuable for any student interested in a better understanding of why "good" policies are so elusive in a variety of institutional contexts.
Introduction to Public Policy covers a wide range of topics, from the norms and values informing democratic policymaking to the basics of cost-benefit and other tools of policy analysis. Though emphases will differ based on instructor strengths, all sections will address the institutional arrangements for making public policy decisions, the role of various actors-including nonprofit and private-sector professionals-in shaping policy outcomes, and the fundamentals (and limits) of analytic approaches to public policy.
Note: Students who have not taken an American Government course in many years, and need to brush up on knowledge of the basic design and functions of the governmental units in the United States, are strongly encouraged to take Introduction to Governance (NONCR-0989) module prior to taking Introduction to Public Policy.
Responsibility in implementing public policies is the purpose of public management in a democratic society. This course provides an analytic lens for understanding the rules, norms, processes and practices that incorporate values into administrative decisions. We use both normative and positive theoretical arguments to understand how responsible action combines accountability with discretionary action. To bring theory to bear on practice, we evaluate difficult cases—historical and contemporary, domestic and international—in light of these arguments.
How does media attention influence government decisions about whether to terminate independent administrative agencies? We argue that an agency’s salience with partisan audiences has a direct effect, but a high media profile can disrupt normal government monitoring processes and obfuscate termination decisions. We evaluate our argument in the context of a recent mass administrative reorganization by the British coalition government using probit and heteroscedastic probit regression models. Evidence suggests that termination is less likely for agencies salient in newspapers popular with the government’s core supporters, but not those read by its minority coalition partner. We also find that agencies with greater overall newspaper salience as well as younger agencies have a higher error variance.
When administrative agencies are terminated, do they quietly fade from public view? On the one hand, the terminated agencies may have weak issue networks and agency reputations allowing them to lose public salience. On the other hand, strong issue networks and agency reputations may mean that termination increases attention to the agencies, making the government pay the cost of public attention generated by the actors within the issue networks. We assess these competing claims by using a unique dataset from a recent mass reorganization of independent agencies in Britain as well as data capturing media attention to agencies in major national newspapers. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that the agencies subject to termination experience reductions in the number of media coverage in major newspapers, disappearing from public view during the post-decision reform period.
This book addresses one of the enduring questions of democratic government: why do governments choose some public policies but not others? Political executives focus on a range of policy issues, such as the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, but they shift their priorities over time. Despite an extensive literature, it has proven surprisingly hard to explain policy prioritisation. To remedy this gap, this book offers a new approach called public policy investment: governments enhance their chances of getting re-elected by managing a portfolio of public policies and paying attention to the risks involved. In this way, government is like an investor making choices about risk to yield returns on its investments of political capital. The public provides signals about expected political capital returns for government policies, or policy assets, that can be captured through expressed opinion in public polls. Governments can anticipate these signals in the choices they make. Statecraft is the ability political leaders have to consider risk and return in their policy portfolios and do so amidst uncertainty in the public's policy valuation. Such actions represent the public's views conditionally because not every opinion change is a price signal. It then outlines a quantitative method for measuring risk and return, applying it to the case of Britain between 1971 and 2000 and offers case studies illustrating statecraft by prime ministers, such as Edward Heath or Margaret Thatcher. The book challenges comparative scholars to apply public policy investment to countries that have separation of powers, multiparty government, and decentralization.
This article sets out and tests a theory of public policy investment – how democratic governments seek to enhance their chances of re-election by managing a portfolio of policy priorities for the public, analogous to the relationship between investment manager and client. Governments choose policies that yield returns the public values; and rebalance their policy priorities later to adjust risk and stabilize return. Do the public reward returns to policy capital or punish risky policy investments? The article investigates whether returns to policy investment guide political management and statecraft. Time-series analyses of risk and return in Britain 1971–2000 reveal that risk and return on government policy portfolios predict election outcomes, and that returns, risk profiles and the uncertainty in public signals influence the prioritization of policies.
Public management researchers are interested in many characteristics of organizations that cannot be directly captured, making aggregated attitudes from surveys an attractive proxy. Yet difficulties in measuring meaningful attributes over time and across organizations have frequently limited statistical designs to a single organization or time. We offer a method for creating such statistical measures across agencies and time using item response theory. Focusing our attention on US federal administrative agencies, we marshal a variety of questions from surveys commissioned by the Office of Personnel Management and Merit Systems Protection Board and employ statistical models to measure three important attributes—autonomy, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation—for 71 agencies between 1998–2010. Our study provides a wealth of data for quantitative public management research designs as well as an adaptable framework for measuring a wide range of concepts.
Through a unique dataset covering half a century of policy-making in Britain, this book traces how topics like the economy, international affairs, and crime have changed in their importance to government. The data concerns key venues of decision-making - the Queen's Speech, laws and budgets – which are compared to the media and public opinion. These trends are conveyed through accessible figures backed up by a series of examples of important policies. As a result, the book throws new light on the key points of change in British politics, such as Thatcherism and New Labour and explores different approaches to agenda setting helping to account for these changes: incrementalism, the issue attention cycle and the punctuated equilibrium model. What results is the development of a new approach to agenda setting labelled focused adaptation whereby policy-makers respond to structural shifts in the underlying pattern of attention.
Studies of distributive public policy claim that electoral incentives shape the geographic distribution of government grants to individuals and organizations, such as those in arts and culture. Public management scholarship suggests that managers bring value to their communities and stakeholders within them through their capacity and skill. This study combines these literatures in a quantitative study of the geographic distribution of Grants for the Arts (GFA) in the UK between 2003 and 2006. Employing statistical regression techniques for count data, we find that GFA program in this period had a nonignorable distributive political character. Local authorities with swing voters for the governing party in Westminster received more GFA grants than did local authorities with its core supporters. We also find significant evidence that, at the same time, well-managed local authorities, as measured by performance assessment ratings, act as a magnet for GFA grants. Our conceptual discussion, quantitative modeling strategy, and results blend distributive politics and public management in a novel way for the study of cultural policy.
Executive turnover influences agency performance, policy implementation, and ultimately the success of legislative delegations. We argue that turnover intention is a function of labor market opportunities—specifically, outside employment opportunities and the acquisition of nontransferable, agency-specific human capital—as well as perceptions about the way in which political decisions have affected federal executive influence over policymaking. Statistical evidence for these claims is provided using data from the 2007–2008 Survey on the Future of Government Service, the largest ever survey of US federal executives. Agency-specific human capital drives down turnover intention in our estimates. The availability of outside options has the opposite effect except in cases where the executive has invested a lot in agency-specific human capital. Turnover intention increases when an agency’s senior executives have little influence over policy. We draw out the implications of these findings for our understanding of federal labor markets, the construction of civil service systems, and the politicization of executive branch agencies.
This book provides a general, nontechnical introduction to core ideas in positive political theory as they apply to public management and policy. Anthony Michael Bertelli helps readers understand public-sector governance arrangements and their implications for public management practice policy outcomes. By offering a framework that applies to specific administrative tasks, The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance allows readers to think clearly about many aspects of the modern administrative state and how they fit into a larger project of governance.
Government agencies service interest groups, advocate policies, provide advice to elected officials, and create and implement public policy. Scholars have advanced theories to explain the role of agencies in American politics, but efforts to test these theories are hampered by the inability to systematically measure agency preferences. We present a method for measuring agency ideology that yields ideal point estimates of individual bureaucrats and agencies that are directly comparable with those of other political actors. These estimates produce insights into the nature of the bureaucratic state and provide traction on a host of questions about American politics. We discuss what these estimates reveal about the political environment of bureaucracy and their potential for testing theories of political institutions. We demonstrate their utility by testing key propositions from Gailmard and Patty's (2007) influential model of political control and endogenous expertise development.
Combining insights from traditional thought and practice and from contemporary political analysis, Madison's Managers presents a constitutional theory of public administration in the United States. Anthony Michael Bertelli and Laurence E. Lynn Jr. contend that managerial responsibility in American government depends on official respect for the separation of powers and a commitment to judgment, balance, rationality, and accountability in managerial practice.
The authors argue that public management—administration by unelected officials of public agencies and activities based on authority delegated to them by policymakers—derives from the principles of American constitutionalism, articulated most clearly by James Madison. Public management is, they argue, a constitutional institution necessary to successful governance under the separation of powers. To support their argument, Bertelli and Lynn combine two intellectual traditions often regarded as antagonistic: modern political economy, which regards public administration as controlled through bargaining among the separate powers and organized interests, and traditional public administration, which emphasizes the responsible implementation of policies established by legislatures and elected executives while respecting the procedural and substantive rights enforced by the courts. These literatures are mutually reinforcing, the authors argue, because both feature the role of constitutional principles in public management.
Madison's Managers challenges public management scholars and professionals to recognize that the legitimacy and future of public administration depend on its constitutional foundations.